The FDA and the JUUL

Oh nicotine, sweet innocent nicotine.  You couldn’t imagine the affect you’ve had on us humans.

Today dear JUULers I will dig into this “FDA and the JUUL” fiasco in an attempt to set the story straight.

If you have a JUUL you’ve undoubtedly heard about all this FDA nonsense unfolding, but, most (myself included before writing this article) have not actually given it a good run through the ‘ol Google machine.

Instead, we form our view of the story through tidbits of information from the media and our peers, be it in person or through the latest controversial tweet.

Unfortunately, like a nation-wide game of telephone, these sources of information almost always neglect the facts and exaggerate personal biases.

And THAT, dear JUULers, is what interests me the most about this case.  It’s an interesting look at how the social structure of our society breeds misinformation and divides the population on key issues in which we often all want the same thing.

In this example, that shared goal is:

Reduce the damage caused by nicotine addiction and smoking.

In addition to exploring this psychological phenomenon, I will clarify the events that have taken place as well as what the immediate outcomes for us JUULers are.

Here we go, let’s find the TRUTH about this JUUL and FDA debacle.

The FDA and the JUUL

The FDA and the JUUL: A Brief History

The summer of 2017 is where this story begins.  The FDA announced that they would be initiating a new campaign to combat death and disease caused by nicotine addiction and tobacco use.

Some of their main objectives were:

  • Reduce the the addictive qualities of traditional tobacco products
  • Reduce youth e-cigarette usage
  • Maintain availability of e-cigarette products to adult smokers looking for a safer alternative

“Wait, what?!”

I doubt that pro-JUUL status update you just read didn’t include that last point!  We’ll come back to that soon.

As youth use skyrocketed over the proceeding months FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb realized that reducing underage usage was the primary concern. 

He is terrified that we are witnessing a whole new generation becoming addicted to nicotine. Thus undoing much of the progress that has been made to reduce nicotine consumption in recent years.

To this end, in April 2018 he launched a “blitz” researching campaign that took a closer look at popular e-cigarettes and why teen usage levels have been rising so dramatically.

Obviously, the JUUL was at the forefront of this research.  Considering JUUL controls over half of the e-cig market, this makes sense.

However, they didn’t just target JUUL. 

In addition, they confronted Vuse, MarkTen, Blu E-Cigarettes, and Logic.  Altogether these companies make up 97% of the e-cigarette market.

The FDA and the JUUL The Big Five

It’s important to note that JUUL’s goal has always been to eliminate traditional cigarettes and give adult smokers a safer option while keeping underage use to a minimum.  JUUL has been working with the FDA towards this goal throughout the entirety of this campaign.

The research blitz showed that cartridge based vaporizers (like the JUUL) and those that featured sweet and fruity flavors were the most common type of e-cig being used by teens.

A few months later, as underage use continued to grow, the FDA (in an attempt to work WITH these companies rather than penalize them outright) granted a 60-day period for these companies to develop a plan to combat teen usage of their products.

JUUL’s response to this allowance was to cease all of their social media marketing and to remove the availability of fruity flavored pods in convenience stores.  JUUL will now only sell tobacco and menthol flavored JUUL Pods in these stores, which they believe mirrors the current availability of traditional tobacco from these sources.

That brings us to the present.  The FDA is closely monitoring underage usage and whether or not JUUL’s plan will be effective enough to negate further action.

FDA and the JUUL: The REAL Issue

As mentioned above, the FDA is, and has been, very aware of the value e-cigarettes bring by giving adult smokers access to nicotine in a form that has a much lower risk profile.

However, they hold preventing underage usage above all else.  If this means that they have to make it more difficult for adults to access vaporizers, they’ll do it.

I support this, because most kids experimenting with nicotine really don’t understand the risk they are taking.  Life-long addiction is nothing to make light of.

The primary problem the FDA faces is maintaining the availability of vaporizers to adult smokers while minimizing teen usage of them.

One way they are achieving the former is through reducing the amount of nicotine in traditional cigarettes and prohibiting the use of menthol flavoring in cigarettes. 

I thought that was a very interesting point.  The FDA really does sympathize with adult smokers and wants to find a solution that caters to all.  That’s a fact that most news sources definitely leave out.

In essence, the FDA is looking for a compromise between the two sides.

The FDA and the JUUL Compromise

If you don’t believe me in saying that the FDA is being very reasonable, then read this press release on the FDA’s website!

I encourage you to search around their site a little more if you found that interesting! There are lots of recent vape related press-releases, many of which include the FDA’s plans for the future!

However, children are still the top priority and the FDA WILL continue to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for adults to obtain e-cigarettes if it’s in the best interests of younger generations.

FDA and the JUUL: The Two Sides

All this has boiled down into a fierce duel between two major parties: Ex-Adult Smokers and Adult Non-Smokers.

These parties, unaware of the facts we are privy to, tend to take strongly biased sides.

The common arguments of each group are as follows:

Ex-Adult Smokers:

The FDA and the JUUL Vapers
  • Kids will be kids and are going to find ways to try nicotine regardless of restrictions
  • JUUL isn’t marketing to kids, adults like fruity flavors too!
  • If they weren’t vaping, they’d be smoking so it’s better this way!
  • Alcohol companies advertise fruity flavorings in the same way that vapes are being punished for!

Adult Non-Smokers:

The FDA and the JUUL Non-Smokers
  • Vaping is just as bad as smoking, but kids don’t understand that.
  • This is an epidemic equal to the initial rise in popularity of cigarettes
  • Just wait and see what they find out about what those vapes do to you.
  • These EVIL companies are marketing to children just to make a quick buck!

As we can see, there are very uninformed opinions on both sides.  Instead of “let’s find a compromise” we have turned this into an all-out battle that pits adult vapers against those who have no idea what being addicted to nicotine is like in the first place.

I will now break down these arguments and show why they are incorrect and only serve to further the divide on this important issue.

Ex-Adult Smokers

It’s funny, before doing some more research and reading FDA announcements I shared many of the views of this group.  Now that I can see how reasonably the FDA is going about this whole deal, I have reformed some of those opinions.

1.) Kids will be kids.

The FDA recognizes this fact and understands that there will always be a small percentage of the youth that experiments with substances, and that they will never be able to prevent this.

This instance goes beyond the standard level of experimentation however.  The rise in the use of e-cigs among the youth is concerning.  Over 25% of underage children report having at least tried an e-cig before.

That is an astounding number that has raised CONSIDERABLY over the past couple of years.  Just take a look at this chart from the Surgeon General’s report on underage usage:

The FDA and the JUUL Underage E-cigarette Usage Chart

This is the kind of unexpected growth that demands action.

2.) Fruity flavors and Alcohol

While it’s true that we adults enjoy fruity flavors, the fact that they make it more accessible to teens can’t be ignored.

After all, part of what kept me from experimenting with alcohol until late high school was the awful taste I had experienced when taking a sip from my parent’s wine/beer as a child.

Which brings me to the next point: The similar style of marketing we can observe in alcohol as in the vaporizers that are being targeted.

The FDA and the JUUL Fruity Alcohol Flavors

The main difference here is that while underage e-cigarette use is climbing alarmingly fast, underage alcohol use is not.  You can guarantee that if we observed growth in underage alcohol consumption similar to that of e-cig use the FDA would be in full-on crisis mode.

Which leads one to wonder, are the fruity flavors really what’s enticing kids to try vaping? I don’t think it plays nearly as large a role as the FDA would like to believe.

I think it has more to do with the way society views alcohol and nicotine as a whole.  People view kids drinking as much more dangerous than kids vaping.  This means that the underage sale of alcohol is much more strict and a lot less likely to slide under the radar than underage sale of nicotine products.

Imagine a random kid asks you to buy alcohol or a JUUL for them.  If you HAD to choose one, which would you go with? The JUUL certainly has a much lower chance to cause damage in the short-term, and humans are awfully bad at properly weighing long-term outcomes.

The FDA and the JUUL Alcohol or JUUL

Another big reason I think kids are attracted to the JUUL is because of the novelty surrounding e-cigarettes, which leads to the next argument:

3.)  If they weren’t vaping, they’d be smoking.

As a society (including children), we are very aware of how harmful smoking is.  This alone is more than enough to keep many kids from trying cigarettes.

However, ever since vaporizers hit the market there has been so much talk about them being a safe alternative to smoking that kids take this to mean there are zero risks.  

As we know, the risk of nicotine addiction should not be understated, but this is the main piece of information kids don’t pick up on. 

They hear “safe alternative” and don’t realize that this means that it is SAFER for people who are already addicted to nicotine and cigarettes.

Adult Non-Smokers

This is the extreme view that everything involving nicotine or the inhalation of any foreign substance is nothing but bad and dangerous, even to the point of considering smokers bad people!

The FDA and the JUUL No Smoking for Me

This comes from a position of severe misunderstanding.  Let’s take a look at their common arguments:

1.) Vaping is just as bad as smoking.  Just wait until they find out what it does to you long term.

This is just outright false.  Tons of studies have shown vaping to be 95% safer than smoking, making it an amazing lower-risk option for adult smokers.

Having never experienced nicotine addiction themselves, it’s hard for them to sympathize with smokers and to see the benefits vaporizers have compared to smoking.  To them it’s all bad and these devices are corrupting their children.

As far as long-term effects are concerned, non-smokers have got the upper hand.  Unfortunately, until we see what happens to humans who have vaped for many years we cannot be sure of the long-term effects it has on us.  Still, initial studies are very promising.

2.) This epidemic is equal to the initial rise of cigarettes.

Although it is tempting to view the current situation as such, it is simply illogical to do so.

We knew NOTHING about the effects of inhaling smoke when cigarettes first gained popularity, medical science was nowhere near where it is today, AND the internet didn’t even exist yet!

The FDA and the JUUL JUUL is not Equal to Cigarettes

Today, we know the risks associated with inhaling foreign substances. 

We are testing vaporizers more and more every day to learn as much as we can about their relative safety.  If studies start popping up showing that vapes give us cancer at an equal rate to cigarettes, I don’t think many people would be surprised, and the backlash against vaping would be swift and dramatic.

3.) EVIL companies selling drugs to children!

This again, comes from a lack of awareness and information. 

At least in JUUL’s case, us JUULers KNOW that they do not intentionally target children.  I can’t necessarily say the same about other companies because I have not directly experienced their marketing.

JUUL’s mission however, has always been to give adult smokers a safer alternative to smoking.  Nothing more, nothing less.

The FDA and the JUUL - Good or Bad

Now that THAT’S out of the way, I’ll tell you about some TRUE EVIL…

The FDA, the JUUL, and… THE MEDIA

Here is where the true villain of the story comes in.

The FDA and the JUUL Villain

It’s not the FDA, nor the JUUL, or even the uninformed public….

No, the real instigator is THE MEDIA.

If you’ve been paying attention, you could probably tell this is where we were headed.

Don’t worry, I’m not going full conspiracy on you…. yet ;).

I blame the media for most of the biased and uninformed opinions the public have on this topic.

You see, JUUL and the FDA playing nice to try and find the best solution for all groups of people doesn’t create the most enticing story. 

Newscasters want DRAMA, not cordial agreements.

In an attempt to get views and ratings news sources paint this picture as an all out war between JUUL and the FDA.

JUUL becomes an evil power similar to that of big tobacco, and the FDA is turned into a control-freak government institution that wants to ban vapes entirely at the expense of smokers.

As I’ve explained here, neither of those situations are true.  In reality the FDA and companies like JUUL both want to find a solution that reduces underage use while helping current smokers switch to a safer alternative.

Once individuals and organizations have chosen their side, they further the distortion by making up all sorts of false information to sway others who are less informed to their side.

Claims such as “JUUL contains the deadly chemical diacetyl which causes popcorn lung” – an outright lie – run rampant and continue to mislead those who have not researched the issue themselves.

Having no information to reference, people take these claims at face value believing they are true and going on to “inform” others of these “facts”.

Misinformation spreads like a virus, and the source stems from inaccurate media coverage.

The FDA and the JUUL Fake News

This is something that happens all the time in our society, with all kinds of issues.  From politics to human rights, the media has been pitting us against each other for decades.

If you’ve made it this far, I hope this serves as a cautionary tale and makes you think twice about that last headline you saw on BuzzFeed or USA Today.

Question everything, accept nothing.  Each one of us contributes to the overarching outcomes of these disputes.  Don’t be a conduit for the epidemic of misinformation.

FDA and the JUUL: Outcomes

So how does all this currently affect us as JUULers?

Well there’s good news and there’s bad news.

The BAD News

As I stated in the history section, JUUL has pulled their fruity flavors from convenience stores.

That means that if you usually buy your mango pods from the 7-Eleven down the street, you’re gonna have to improvise.

You can either start ordering your JUUL Pods online, or potentially buy them from vape shops.

I say “potentially” because I’m not even sure about the second option, as I don’t know if vape shops were included in the “convenience stores” removal.

Although you may view this as an inconvenience, I think in the long run you’ll be more satisfied ordering JUUL Pods online. Which leads me to:

The GOOD News

Ordering JUUL Pods online comes with a number of benefits.

These include:

  • Cheaper Prices
  • Never running out of pods
  • Not having to stop at convenience stores every couple of days.

I’ve been ordering my JUUL Pods through JUUL’s auto-ship program for some time, and can say it is much preferred to buying from convenience locations.

You order all your pods for the month in one go so you never run out midday, you save 15% off of the base price of Pods, AND I have had very few leakage problems from Pods ordered directly from JUUL.

Shipping is fast and free, so you never have to wait too long for your sweet, sweet mango.

The FDA and the JUUL Fast Shipping On JUUL Pods

Truth Administered, Psychosis Stabilizing

I hope this post has provided some clarity on this complex issue.  There’s so much misinformation circulating that I had to attempt to shed some light on the topic.

We’ll have to wait and find out what the FDA plans to do next, if anything.  Fingers crossed that what JUUL has done already will be enough to reduce underage usage to an acceptable level.

Remember, always take any piece of information with a grain of salt.  You never know how much of it could be completely false.

Have truthful day dear JUULers, we’ll see you soon.

Is your mind BLOWN by the truth?  Are you starting to question everything in your life? (If so good luck, that’s a one way street)  What was the biggest misconception you had about this FDA and the JUUL situation? Anything else? Let me know with a comment!


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