The AMA has the vaping industry in its sights
Vaping numbers remain high despite concerns
Electronic cigarettes, more commonly known as e-cigarettes, are electronic, nicotine-delivery devices that use nicotine pods. Also known as vaping, the original purpose of the e-cigarettes was to wean people off cigarettes. They are advertised as a safer alternative to smoking. The vaping industry has skyrocketed within the last five years with little oversight.
The product is said to have been invented by a Chinese pharmacist in 2003. Around that time, tobacco companies were also working on a nicotine aerosol product that would eventually be the e-cigarette.
Vaping was previously more common in young adults, but the demand has since trickled down into high schools and even middle schools. Popularity among younger and younger users has grown exponentially.
The fledgling vaping industry is evolving quickly, and its safety is being challenged by the American Medical Association (AMA). Many states are jumping on board also while trying to learn more about the product and its side effects.
Juul is the largest manufacturer of e-cigarettes
Juul Labs Inc., the maker of Juul e-cigarettes, has been in the news for several months now. The company sells both the vaping devices and the nicotine pods. Juul e-cigarettes hit the market in 2015. The rise in popularity is attributed to the higher levels of nicotine level in Juul pods.
The company has been singled out because it holds about three-quarters of the market of e-cigarettes. It’s also been accused of using social media influencers and slick ads to target younger users. Juul claims it never meant glamorize the product or to target those markets. They have since removed some of their Instagram and Facebook accounts.
The pods Juul sells contain 10 times the amount of nicotine compared to other pods on the market. The idea was that the higher levels would keep smokers from going back to smoking cigarettes. Instead, experts believe the demand has increased the number of people addicted to nicotine at younger ages and is possibly a gateway to using cigarettes.
Juul makes an obscene amount of money from its products. According to Bloomberg, the company earned $200 million in 2017. In 2018, Juul made $1.3 billion in revenue. The forecast for 2019 is that it will triple to $3.4 billion due to expansion into overseas markets.
Vaping and health concerns
In November 2019, the AMA asked for a ban on all vaping devices that don’t have FDA approval due to the surge of underage use. They’re concerned as vaping illnesses have been on the rise. During the past year, over 2200 lung injury cases and 48 deaths have been attributed to vaping.
E-cigarette users are presenting with pneumonia-like or flu-like symptoms at ER departments around the country. Lung x-rays show chemical burns, abnormal fluid, and inflammation in the lungs — a majority of those patients with injuries reported using THC pods, which Juul does not sell.
Several states have lawsuits pending against Juul charging them with deceptive advertising and its failure to warn customers about the high nicotine levels. Many are also enacting regulations regarding use by young people. There’s also scrutiny regarding its claim to be safer than cigarettes.
“The safety of e-cigarettes is being challenged by the American Medical Association.”
One of the biggest complaints against Juul is its use of different flavored pods. Juul’s nicotine pods previously included flavors like crème brulee, mango, cappuccino, and strawberry lemonade, which were said to target teens. The company voluntarily removed many of those flavors from their product line due to the push back over safety concerns.
The AMA is asking for more research to be done on vaping as a smoking cessation product. The longterm effects are unknown at this time. Juul states it’s working with regulators and policymakers to cut down on the underage usage of its products. Many anti-vaping groups remain skeptical as the most popular flavors of mint and menthol remain on the market being sold to young people every day.
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