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ss triple helix - Winter 2019,  No smoke without a fire? Controversy over flavoured vapes

No smoke without a fire? Controversy over flavoured vapes

Juul, the 'iPhone of e-cigarettes' (1) maintains that its flavoured 'vapes' are safe to use in the UK, despite concerns over a 'mysterious lung illness' that has led to over 20 deaths and more than a thousand medical cases in the US. (2)

Seen as an alternative to cigarettes, Juul insists its target market is smokers trying to quit, but this has not stopped accusations that it has been targeting young people with its fruity flavoured vapes. (3) (The proportion of young people who have not smoked, but vaped has increased in the UK.) (4)

Juul was worth more than $38 billion dollars at the start of the year, (5) with 'to juul' a verb in high schools across America, where vaping has reached epidemic proportions. (6) Efforts have begun to curb the company's influence on teenagers.

A ban on flavoured e-cigarettes has been announced in the USA (7) and India(8) with both Scotland (9) and Ireland (10) drawing up their own measures.

Juul, using its own research conducted by the Centre for Substance Use Research in Glasgow, found that non-tobacco flavours helped smokers move away from cigarettes by 30%. (11) While their evidence may suggest that vaping helps long-term smokers break the habit, the question of whether vaping is safe is another matter.(12)

Public Health England has insisted that vaping is 95% safer than smoking and that the 'mysterious lung illness' is largely linked to the vaping of cannabis substances. (13) But only time will tell the effect that vaping has on its users, and whether this vaping controversy evaporates into thin air. (14)

Review by Oluwatosin Oyeniyi, CMF Editorial Assistant

  1. Bhattacharya S. Why teenagers are addicted to their Juuls - the iPhone of e-cigarettes. The Times 22 September 2018. [Accessed 11 October 2019]
  2. Reuters, Rahhal N. Vaping death toll rises to 28. Panic over e-cigarette use across the US continues as cases of mysterious lung illnesses linked to the habit hit 1,300. Mail Online 10 October 2019. [Accessed 16 October 2019]
  3. Bennett R. Heads warn parents to look out for signs of vaping among 11-year-olds. The Times 9 September 2019. [Accessed 11 October 2019]
  4. McNeill A, Brose SL, Calder R et al. Vaping in England: an evidence update February 2019. Public Health England. Pg52. [Accessed 11 October 2019]
  5. Sherman N. Juul: The rise of a $38 bn e-cigarette phenomenon. BBC News 6 January 2019. [Accessed 14 October 2019]
  6. Asthana A. What is the truth about vaping? [podcast] Today in Focus 14 October 2019. [Accessed 14 October].
  7. Jackson D. Trump moves to ban flavoured vaping products to discourage young people from e-cigarettes. USA Today 12 September 2019. [Accessed 16 October 2019]
  8. India e-cigarettes: Ban announced to prevent youth 'epidemic'. BBC News 18 September 2019. [Accessed 14 October 2019]
  9. Yeomans E. Ministers plan attack on vaping ads to deter children. The Times 9 September 2019. [Accessed 14 October 2019]
  10. Moore A. Simon Harris to ban cigarette machines and under 18 vaping. The Times 17 September 2019. [Accessed 14 October 2019]
  11. Fortson D. Juul defends flavoured vaping with research the company helped pay for. The Times 15 September 2019. [Accessed 14 October 2019]
  12. Bosman J. He tried e-cigarettes to quit smoking. Doctors say vaping led to his death. New York Times 14 October 2019. [Accessed 14 October 2019]
  13. Doward J and McKie R. British vapers are safe, claim health experts after deaths in US. The Observer 7 September 2019. [Accessed 14 October 2019]
  14. Doward J, Fraser T. UK attacked for defence of flavoured e-cigarettes. The Observer 14 September 2019. [Accessed 16 October 2019]
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