Unit 6 - What are JUULs & Other Pod-Based Systems (e.g., PHIX, Suorin, Blu)?
We have been informed that some companies that are in the business of selling products that contain tobacco and/or nicotine had either included links to our Toolkit in their marketing materials, or implied that The Stanford Tobacco Prevention Toolkit or the faculty and staff involved in creating it have some affiliation with them. This is simply not true. We are committed to preventing use of tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and any other tobacco- and nicotine-related products and we do not receive any funding from them or otherwise collaborate with them.
- Obtain accurate knowledge about pod-based systems (e.g., JUUL, PHIX, Suorin) and how they are made to work like a cigarette
- Identify marketing strategies employed by pod-based system manufacturers (e.g., JUUL, PHIX, Suorin) to attract new customers
- Learn about the effects that nicotine in pod-based systems (e.g., JUUL, PHIX, Suorin) has on the adolescent body and brain
- Identify specific marketing strategies that the pod-based system manufacturers (e.g., JUUL, PHIX, Suorin) use that may increase use among adolescents
- Understand the appeal of pod-based systems (e.g., JUUL, PHIX, Suorin) among adolescents in order to counter the appeal
This is an important Vox video on JUUL, including information about its creators, showing how it went "viral," the role of packaging and flavors, and health concerns related to this tobacco/nicotine product. This video highlights the importance of and need for regulation of this pod-based e-cigarette.
Teachers should go through each unit and download the PowerPoint for class presentation. Teachers should also download the accompanying activities for in-class activities. Speakers' notes are embedded in the PowerPoint. Activities are meant to be printed for students before class begins. Each Unit has a Kahoot! Quiz linked below and can be used as a pre and post quiz to see how much students know before and after instruction. Discussion Guides found below can be assigned as take-home assignments.
Lesson 6.1: Pod-Based Systems 101
Unit 6 The Pod-Based Device Crash Course
A Quick Guide
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Changing Social Norms
Social media has become an integral part of young people’s social experiences, with a majority of young people interacting with social media on a daily basis.
There has been increasing concerns around how young people have been targeted on social media.
Social media accounts post videos of young people using these products, while giving "shout-outs" to pod-based brands.
Social media allows for the industry to have widespread advertising at almost no cost. By sharing cartoons and memes, young people have essentially done the advertising for them.
- "Ads for E-cigarettes Today Hearken Back to the Banned Tricks of Big Tobacco" Smithsonian Magazine
- "The Juul in the crown - how social media provided the polish" ECigIntelligence
- "Silicon Valley e-cig startup Juul 'threw a really great party' to launch its devices, which experts say deliberately targeted youth" Business Insider
Young people report flavors being one of the main reasons why they try using JUULs or other pod-based systems.
Research has shown that young people are disproportionately attracted to sweet and fruity flavors compared to adults.
Most flavored cigarettes have been banned since 2009, since extensive research shows that they are more appealing to young people. The e-cig industry has yet to be regulated in this way.
Why else would there be 15,500 e-juice flavor options such as Banana Butt and Honey Doo Doo?
- "Flavors Hook Kids" California Tobacco Control Program
- "Menthol and Other Flavors in Tobacco Products" U.S. Food & Drug Administration
- "Juul e-cigarette craze highlights why flavored tobacco products are so dangerous" Truth Initiative
Perceived Reduced Risk
Young people have an overwhelming misperception that pod-based systems like JUUL are less harmful than cigarettes, with 63% of youth JUUL users claiming that they do not even contain nicotine!
A lot of this may be due to the confusing packaging. The "5% strength" on e-juice packaging may be confusing.
A higher value means there is more nicotine, but 5% on these boxes is misleading. 5% is a small number and it just says “5% strength.” 5% strength of what? Exactly how much is 5%?
This marketing strategy of using “5% strength” on the packaging can manipulate and mislead young people.
- "Juul e-cigarettes gain popularity among youth, but awareness of nicotine presence remains low" Truth Initiative
- "A vape pen startup that's taking over America is raising $1.2 billion - but questions remain about its safety" Business Insider
Many young people report stress being a huge part of their life from academic to home environments.
Unfortunately, with many myths spread around correlating vaping with decreased stress, young people may turn to substances such as pod-based systems (like JUULs) as a method to cope with other stress happening in their life.
This is very similar to the tactics of the previous generations of the tobacco industry: marketing cigarettes as products to help with mental illness and stress.
Lack of Addiction Education
Since JUULs and other pod-based systems are a fairly new electronic vaping device, there have yet to be comprehensive curricula developed to address these new devices (except this one!)
This is concerning because the high amount of nicotine in JUULs and other pod-based systems can be dangerous to the developing teen brain, which is very sensitive to nicotine and prone to addiction.
We are nowhere close to understanding what is in the JUULpod and how it affects the body. Yet we still need to teach young people how to make healthy decisions about these new pod-based systems.
The industry uses advertisements of pod-based systems including colorful images, youthful models, and social justice themes to target young people.
In addition, social media does the advertising for the industry at almost no cost.