November 1, 2018

Contact:  Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
               Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391


JUUL, a popular e-cigarette, has hit Montana

JUUL, among other e-cigarettes, is addicting a whole new generation of Montana youth to nicotine

State health officials are sending an urgent message about the dangers of JUUL, a type of e-cigarette, and especially its impact to Montana’s youth.

Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Sheila Hogan said a 2018 study published in the Tobacco Control journal found that most JUUL users (63%) are unaware that the product contains nicotine.

She said one JUUL pod is equivalent to a pack of cigarettes, or 200 cigarette puffs.

“Youth use of nicotine in any form is unsafe because it harms brain development and increases the likelihood of addiction to other drugs in the future,” Hogan said. “Because e-cigarettes contain nicotine, these products are highly addictive and are hooking a whole new generation to tobacco.”

A 2017 meta-analysis found that youth and young adults who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future than youth and young adults who do not use e-cigarettes. JUUL is a type of e-cigarette, although teens tend to put it in a separate category and call using the product, “JUULing.” JUUL hit the market in 2015 and has already amassed 73% of the e-cigarette market share.

JUUL e-cigarette sales increased by 641% in just one year, according to a research letter by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in JAMA. The letter states that, “many of the sales likely reflect products obtained directly or indirectly by youth.”

JUULs appeal to youth because they come in sweet flavors like mango, fruit medley and crème brulee, look like a USB flash drive and can be easily concealed. In a survey conducted by the Montana Office of Public Instruction in April 2018, Montana high school principals from AA through class C reported JUUL use during school hours both inside and outside their school buildings.

The most common way youth obtain JUUL is through physical retail locations, according to a survey conducted in April 2018 by the Truth Initiative. Nearly three out of four youth said that they got their JUUL from a store or retail outlet.

In Montana, e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth. The most recent Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed nearly a quarter of Montana high school students use e-cigarettes and almost half have tried them. E-cigarettes are devices that come in many shapes and sizes and heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid and aerosol contains nicotine, flavorings, ultrafine particles, heavy metals, and chemicals that have been known to cause cancer.

All JUUL pods (the e-liquid cartridges) contain nicotine, and not just any nicotine. JUUL uses nicotine salts, rather than the freebase nicotine used in most other e-cigarettes and tobacco products. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nicotine salts “…allow high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation.”

Localities across the nation have taken action to prevent youth initiation of e-cigarette and other tobacco products by increasing the price, prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco and requiring all tobacco products to be placed behind the counter in retail settings.
“Everyone can do their part to reduce youth initiation of tobacco in Montana,” Hogan said.

Pediatric healthcare providers can help deter use by asking about e-cigarette and JUUL use during visits with patients. Educators can do their part by implementing and enforcing comprehensive tobacco-free school policies. Parents are encouraged to learn about the different types of e-cigarettes and talk to their kids about the risks associated with e-cigarette use.

Visit reactmt.com or e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov for more information.