Social media offer insights into teen Juul use, popularity

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Monitoring tweets and monitoring discussion groups might make clear the hovering recognition and use of the flash drive-shaped Juul e-cigarette, researchers say.

“Juul has change into a cultural phenomenon and has been known as the ‘iPhone of digital cigarettes’ amongst some media shops,” lead research writer Ramakanth Kavuluru informed Reuters Well being. “You already know it is a phenomenon when individuals begin dressing up because it for Halloween.”

Though the system is restricted to ages 21 and older, Kavuluru’s crew discovered by analyzing social media conversations that underage customers have methods to purchase Juul, and infrequently use the units secretly at residence and at college.

“Juul got here onto our radar final fall, and we began monitoring it on Twitter, the place social media chatter amongst teenagers isn’t as inhibited as on Fb, the place their mother and father could also be,” Kavuluru stated in a phone interview.

Launched in 2015, Juul is the most well-liked e-cigarette with practically 50 % market share as of January 2018, the research crew notes. Charged through USB, the system comes with disposable pods containing a 5-percent nicotine liquid, with every pod stated to be roughly equal to at least one pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs from conventional cigarettes. Though Juul is marketed for grownup people who smoke looking for a substitute for cigarettes, many younger individuals who have by no means smoked have taken to the system.

Based on a analysis letter within the journal Tobacco Management, Kavuluru and colleagues analyzed greater than 250,000 messages on Twitter and Reddit between October 2017 and February 2018.

On Twitter, about one-third of the posts have been authentic tweets, and the remainder have been retweets by others. On this platform particularly, Juul was continuously used as a verb, as in “attempting to Juul within the rest room,” the researchers word.

“It is an exercise that individuals can do collectively,” Kavuluru stated. “It makes them really feel like they belong to a bunch and might calm down collectively.”

Juul mentions have been additionally typically related to college websites and hid locations in these areas, reminiscent of loos, bogs or locker rooms, the researchers discovered. Almost eight,000 tweets talked about Christmas and Valentine’s Day items associated to Juul, with some customers hoping for pods as items.

One other practically 1,800 distinctive tweets contained phrases associated to nicotine dependence, together with the phrases crave, dependancy, addicted. A number of Twitter customers talked about they have been hooked on Juul, typically in a light-hearted method, and others stated they have been glad they are not addicted.

On Reddit, the analysis crew discovered a topical discussion board, referred to as a subreddit, with greater than 15,000 members discussing Juul-related themes. In addition they discovered a bunch for underage customers that began in July 2017 and was banned in January 2018. Whereas it lasted, this group’s customers messaged about retailers that do not require age verification, and older customers supplied “discreet transport” of the product to teenagers keen to pay a better worth through on-line fee websites.

“Though the underage Juul subreddit is banned, there could possibly be different extra non-public on-line boards the place related data may be exchanged amongst underage customers, posing a serious problem for surveillance,” the research authors write. “Whereas it was energetic, the underage subreddit supplied a peek into the inside workings of how social networks can result in simpler entry to tobacco merchandise.”

Based mostly on their four-month experiment, Kavuluru of the College of Kentucky in Lexington and his colleagues recommend that researchers and regulators also can use social media to review patterns of Juul use and to focus on public well being messages on to teenagers.

In late April, the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration launched a crackdown on gross sales to minors and Juul’s producer introduced it could spend $30 million to assist develop a framework for analysis into the scientific and social implications of vapor merchandise in addition to evaluating applied sciences to stop youth from accessing and utilizing Juul merchandise.

“The surge in recognition occurred so shortly that the (FDA) was not capable of sustain on analysis and rules,” stated Amanda Morrill, an assistant professor of pharmacy follow at MCPHS College in Boston, who was not concerned within the research.

“E-cigarettes are the newest public well being threat, and we have to educate highschool college students about them,” she stated in a phone interview. “Anybody utilizing these merchandise now are the guinea pigs as we be taught within the subsequent 15-20 years how they actually have an effect on us.”

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