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FDA bans Juul e-cigarettes, impacts on Washoe County youth vaping

A hand holding a Juul e-cigarette device.
HS You
Flickr Creative Commons

The Food and Drug Administration issued marketing denial orders for Juul on Thursday, June 23, forcing the company to stop selling and distributing its products.

In a statement, the FDA cited Juul’s “disproportionate role in the rise in youth vaping.” By Friday, June 24, a federal appeals court had paused the ban after Juul filed an emergency motion. The temporary block means Juul products can stay on store shelves for now.

Lisa Sheretz, a Washoe County Health District health educator, said targeted marketing contributed to the tripling rate of e-cigarette use among middle schoolers in the county from 2017 to 2019.

“Go on YouTube and see youth using the products, seeing how big a cloud of smoke they can create; can they make smoke rings?” she said. “Juul took advantage of the flexibility of social media to make sure the message about their product got out there.”

That message being that Juul’s products are a safe and convenient alternative to smoking cigarettes. “There is no level of nicotine exposure that is safe for young brains,” Sheretz added.

In 2019, the company was accused of creating “youth-friendly,” highly-addictive nicotine. At that time, Juul issued a statement to say it was discontinuing its fruit and dessert flavored JuulPods.

The FDA’s ban also cites their inability to determine the liquid pods’ potential levels of toxicity.

“That’s the thing is that we don’t know!” Sheretz said. “We know short-term, behavioral health or mental health impacts on youth [from e-cigarette use]. Those are short-term effects that we are seeing now.”

Twenty-three FDA-approved electronic nicotine delivery systems are on the market now. The FDA says those approved provide a benefit to public health by helping adults to either quit or reduce their smoking, with little risk that youth will become addicted.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Lucretia Cunningham is a former contributing reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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