Study: Juul e-cigarettes extremely popular despite being extremely addictive

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COLUMBIA - Teens and young adults are increasingly using Juul e-cigarettes, despite their addictive nature and frequent warnings from the FDA.

A recent Stanford University study found that young adults who use Juul, use the product nearly twice as much as their cigarette-smoking peers.

“We need to help them understand the risks of addiction. This is not a combustible cigarette, but it still contains an enormous amount of nicotine — at least as much as a pack of cigarettes," said the study's senior author, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher.

Sloan Elsey, a wellness ambassador at the University of Missouri, said using Juuls alone may be better than cigarettes, but that's often not the case.

"People are using Juul electronic cigarettes and pairing it with cigarettes," he said. 

According to the study, Juul e-cigarettes deliver more nicotine than other e-cigarette brands and produce a "throat hit" resembling that of a conventional cigarettes.

"There are statistics that show that it has such a high nicotine level -- that it is unsafe," Elsey said. "Nicotine has the effect of changing the way your cells work with each other."

Tobacco Cessation Research Assistant Sonia Clark suggests the casual nature of Juuls are responsible for their rise in popularity.

"Juuls are just really easy to quickly use. You don't really associate them with smoking as much as you do a cigarette," she said. "They're affordable. A lot of people are doing them - they're more socially acceptable."

MU student Adriana Soto said she uses Juuls for their relaxing effect, but she doesn't view the e-cigarettes as being as bad as their traditional counterpart.

"I don't think they're as addictive for me personally," she said. "I don't have to use it. It's only because I want to."

Soto said the focus should be on ensuring middle and high school aged students are kept away.

"I don't consider it a problem for college-aged students because we are of age. I think it's more of an issue for minors and high-school students specifically," she said.

The issue hits close to home for her.

"I have two little brothers and I know its around them all the time so I think that's kind of where the issue should be focused around," she said.

Juul now accounts for two-thirds of the U.S. e-cigarette market, swiftly gaining in popularity since they first went on sale in 2015. 

Elsey said the rapid growth should make community members think.

"Do we want a product that is being so heavily marketed that is has gone up 77 percent in our youth?" he said.