Our group decided to study the socialization and growth of JUULs among college students. The JUUL was launched in 2015, and is an e-cigarette consisting of a pocket-size vaporizer, consumer friendly charger, as well as nicotine juice cartridges that can be swapped in and out, and is now the best-selling e-cigarette in America (Robinson, 2017). The JUUL generated $224 million in sales in one year and is now 68% of the $2 billion e-cigarette market (Robinson, 2017). The JUUL is in twelve thousand stores across America, along with being sold online. The vaporizer retails for $35, and the four-pack of cartridges costs $15.99 (Robinson, 2017).
JUUL has become a top competitor among the e-cigarette market. Controlling 68 percent of this market, JUUL is now interfering on the traditional tobacco industry (Zaleski, 2018). The JUUL is disrupting the usual sales within tobacco industries. Many big time tobacco companies have created their own vaping products, but they have not successfully caught on like the JUUL (Zaleski, 2018). The PHIX is a similar product that is one of JUUL’s competitors. Both feature disposable pods that come in a variety of flavors. The pods for both the JUUL and the PHIX come with four in each package, but the price of the JUUL pods are lower. According to the official JUUL website, a pack of four sells for $15.99. Where as, the official PHIX website sells a pack of four for $19.99. Although, the JUUL pods are cheaper than that of the PHIX, the JUUL device is more expensive. The JUUL cartridges are made of a concentrated juice containing salts and organic acids that are found in tobacco leaves (Robinson, 2017). Most other e-cigarettes contain free base, which is a type of nicotine that passes quickly into the bloodstream after inhaling (Robinson, 2017). Within the official JUUL website, it says that their goal is to displace cigarettes. Their intention was that JUULs would be used as a better and healthier alternative for tobacco users.
Another competitor of the JUUL is the Suorin. The Suorin is a vape that comes in four different styles; Including the Air, Drop, IShare and Vagon. Not only does the physical structure of these devices set them apart, but the main differentiation is that they have refillable cartridges. The cartridges can be filled with a variety of different type of vape liquids including Nic-Salt e-liquids, Freebase e-liquids, Nicotine-Free e-liquids, 60/40 VG/PG ratio e-liquids, and 70/30 VG/PG e-liquids (Home). Each separate style ranges in juice capacity from 0.9 mL to 2mL (Home). While on the other hand, JUUL pods are made exclusively by their manufacturer and are non-fillable with a 0.7mL capacity consisting of a salt-based nicotine e-liquid (JUUL).
Since the Juul is new to the market, there hasn’t been enough time to fully realize the long term effects on it. Although this is true, it doesn’t mean that the Juul is harmless. One issue with the Juul is the amount of nicotine it contains. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that affects brain growth in younger users. A major reason why nicotine gets it addictive quality, is because it allows dopamines to be released from the brain (Nicotine Poisoning 2018).This feeling will wear off and a craving will be formed for the same feeling produced by the dopamines. The amount of nicotine in one Juul pod has the equivalent of an entire pack of cigarettes. (The Medical Minute 2018). The brain continues to mature until around the age of 25 (Brodwin 2018). When this segment of the population use the Juul, there is a lack of activity in the prefrontal cortex (Brodwin 2018). This is the same part of the brain that alcohol effects. The addiction established invites the opportunity to increased health risks.
The e-cigarette market is not regulated by the FDA. This means the chemicals in the e-cigarettes are not monitored. In recent studies there has been formaldehyde and an antifreeze ingredient found in e-cigarettes (The Medical Minute 2018). This presents a health problem. There are many different health risks on e-cigarettes discovered over the past few years. Some effects are increased heart rate and blood pressure, lung disease, chronic bronchitis and insulin resistance which causes type 2 diabetes. (The Medical Minute 2018). Since Juul is new to the market, the complete health risks are unknown, and people still choose to take a risk and smoke the Juul.
The JUUL, as a whole company, has been extremely successful, which correlates directly to their marketing strategies and efforts. With its sleek, and concealable design, the e-cigarette device appeals heavily to teen and adult smokers making social media marketing techniques easily applicable. The JUUL resembles a flash-drive and can be easily stashed or stowed away, making this more attractive to on-the-go types of people. College students and teens across the country have adapted this new way of smoking causing sales to sky-rocket. With the posing health concerns and the spike in usage among students, the FDA has launched an investigation on the $15 billion company and their skewed marketing efforts (Suppe 2018). The agency has been investigating the multi-billion-dollar company and their recent increase in sales and why it’s so trendy among students and previous non-smokers. Since the JUUL is such a new fad among early adopters, researchers have yet to fully establish the nature on why this trend exists so prominently in college social life. The Administration has asked JUUL and their marketing team to relay their research and other documents that could help aid them on the nature of the product and why sales have increased so significantly (Fox 2018). The FDA hopes that by seeing what’s being researched by JUUL’s teams of specialists, they can get a glimpse at why they’ve been successful in the e-cigarette industry. Since being exposed in the media for targeting minors, they have launched a revamped $30 million marketing campaign that is directed towards underage users and limiting their consumption.
With having such a control over the e-cigarette market, JUUL has also been the target of many lawsuits and pending investigations. Within the last couple of months, the company has received complaints on the basis of their misleading marketing tactics and their product safety claims (O’Brien 2018). The exponential growth of JUUL’s have forced 40 issued letters from the FDA, warning different businesses around the United States of selling the sleek e-cigarette to minors (Fox 2018)
In examining the behaviors of college students that come along with the new emerging e-cigarette, the JUUL, it is important to understand why so many try it out in the first place. While everyone has their different reason as to why, it is usually a social thing and not so much them trying to find a better alternative to cigarettes as the JUUL company had intended. Much of their younger customer base comes from their market attractiveness of them having fun and attractive flavors. In an article from the National Public Radio’s website, a college interviewee includes that at first the use of the JUUL was all about the fun flavors, doing smoke tricks, and that it looked like a lot of fun (NPR, 2018). This is an interesting quote, because it shows that per his example, the JUUL is more of a fun and social aspect than that of one to quit smoking cigarettes. The likelihood that one smokes a JUUL on a regular basis increases the more they use it, because of its addictiveness due to its high nicotine concentration. So while they may start because it is something fun to do at a party, they are starting a habit that will not be easily kicked.
While we are studying the behaviors and effects on college students at the University of Mississippi, this background gives us information on this younger demographic as a whole. While we have found much of the background information available to be pertaining to those in high school, it does not rule out that data for us-- it is evident that those who use the JUUL are sticking with this trend into their college years. Included in an article from The Washington Times, and interviewee explained how much of a social thing it has become, that people are JUULing at school, at parties, and even while driving (The Washington Times, 2018). Because of its immense social appeal, there is no surprise that the majority of the findings center on this aspect of why this demographic begins to use this product.
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