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 turn into a cultural phenomenon and has been referred to as the ‘iPhone of digital cigarettes’ amongst some media retailers,” lead examine writer Ramakanth Kavuluru instructed Reuters Well being. “You realize it is a phenomenon when individuals begin dressing up because it for Halloween.”

Though the machine is restricted to ages 21 and older, Kavuluru’s group discovered by analyzing social media conversations that underage customers have methods to purchase Juul, and infrequently use the gadgets secretly at house and in school.

“Juul got here onto our radar final fall, and we began monitoring it on Twitter, the place social media chatter amongst teenagers will not be 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 preferred e-cigarette with practically 50 % market share as of January 2018, the examine group notes. Charged through USB, the machine comes with disposable pods containing a 5-percent nicotine liquid, with every pod stated to be roughly equal to 1 pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs from conventional cigarettes. Though Juul is marketed for grownup people who smoke in search of a substitute for cigarettes, many younger individuals who have by no means smoked have taken to the machine.

In accordance with 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 had been unique tweets, and the remainder had been retweets by others. On this platform particularly, Juul was incessantly used as a verb, as in “making an attempt to Juul within the lavatory,” the researchers observe.

“It is an exercise that folks can do collectively,” Kavuluru stated. “It makes them really feel like they belong to a bunch and may chill out collectively.”

Juul mentions had been additionally typically related to faculty websites and hid locations in these places, reminiscent of loos, bathrooms or locker rooms, the researchers discovered. Practically eight,000 tweets talked about Christmas and Valentine’s Day presents associated to Juul, with some customers hoping for pods as presents.

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

On Reddit, the analysis group discovered a topical discussion board, often called a subreddit, with greater than 15,000 members discussing Juul-related themes. Additionally 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 provided “discreet delivery” of the product to teenagers prepared to pay a better worth through on-line cost websites.

“Though the underage Juul subreddit is banned, there might be different extra non-public on-line boards the place related data might be exchanged amongst underage customers, posing a serious problem for surveillance,” the examine authors write. “Whereas it was energetic, the underage subreddit supplied a peek into the interior 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 will 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 rapidly that the (FDA) was not capable of sustain on analysis and rules,” stated Amanda Morrill, an assistant professor of pharmacy observe at MCPHS College in Boston, who was not concerned within the examine.

“E-cigarettes are the most recent 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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