Social media offer insights into teen Juul use, popularity

Tracking tweets in addition to monitoring chat groups could shed light on the soaring popularity in addition to use of the flash drive-shaped Juul e-cigarette, researchers say.

“Juul has become a cultural phenomenon in addition to has been called the ‘iPhone of electronic cigarettes’ among some media outlets,” lead study author Ramakanth Kavuluru told Reuters Health. “You know that will’s a phenomenon when people start dressing up as that will for Halloween.”

Although the device will be restricted to ages 21 in addition to older, Kavuluru’s team found by analyzing social media conversations that will underage users have ways to buy Juul, in addition to often use the devices secretly at home in addition to at school.

“Juul came onto our radar last fall, in addition to we began tracking that will on Twitter, where social media chatter among teens will be not as inhibited as on Facebook, where their parents may be,” Kavuluru said in a telephone interview.

Introduced in 2015, Juul will be the most well-known e-cigarette with nearly 50 percent market share as of January 2018, the study team notes. Charged via USB, the device comes with disposable pods containing a 5-percent nicotine liquid, with each pod said to be roughly equivalent to one pack of cigarettes or 0 puffs through traditional cigarettes. Although Juul will be advertised for adult smokers seeking an alternative to cigarettes, many young people who have never smoked have taken to the device.

According to a research letter inside the journal Tobacco Control, Kavuluru in addition to colleagues analyzed more than 250,000 messages on Twitter in addition to Reddit between October 2017 in addition to February 2018.

On Twitter, about one-third of the posts were original tweets, in addition to the rest were retweets by others. On This kind of platform in particular, Juul was frequently used as a verb, as in “trying to Juul inside the bathroom,” the researchers note.

“that will’s an activity that will people can do together,” Kavuluru said. “that will makes them feel like they belong to a group in addition to can relax together.”

Juul mentions were also often associated with school sites in addition to concealed places in those locations, such as bathrooms, toilets or locker rooms, the researchers found. Nearly 8,000 tweets mentioned Christmas in addition to Valentine’s Day gifts related to Juul, with some users hoping for pods as gifts.

Another nearly 1,800 unique tweets contained terms related to nicotine dependence, including the words crave, addiction, addicted. Several Twitter users mentioned they were addicted to Juul, often in a light-hearted manner, in addition to others said they were glad they’re not addicted.

On Reddit, the research team found a topical forum, known as a subreddit, with more than 15,000 members discussing Juul-related themes. They also found a group for underage users that will began in July 2017 in addition to was banned in January 2018. While that will lasted, This kind of group’s users messaged about retailers that will don’t require age verification, in addition to older users offered “discreet shipping” of the product to teens willing to pay a higher cost via online payment sites.

“Although the underage Juul subreddit will be banned, there could be various other more private online forums where similar information can be exchanged among underage users, posing a major challenge for surveillance,” the study authors write. “While that will was active, the underage subreddit provided a peek into the inner workings of how social networks can lead to easier access to tobacco products.”

Based on their four-month experiment, Kavuluru of the University of Kentucky in Lexington in addition to his colleagues suggest that will researchers in addition to regulators can also use social media to study patterns of Juul use in addition to to target public health messages directly to teens.

In late April, the U.S. Food in addition to Drug Administration launched a crackdown on sales to minors in addition to Juul’s maker announced that will could spend $30 million to help develop a framework for research into the scientific in addition to social implications of vapor products as well as evaluating technologies to prevent youth through accessing in addition to using Juul products.

“The surge in popularity happened so quickly that will the (FDA) was not able to keep up on research in addition to regulations,” said Amanda Morrill, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at MCPHS University in Boston, who was not involved inside the study.

“E-cigarettes are the latest public health risk, in addition to we need to educate high school students about them,” she said in a telephone interview. “Anyone using these products at This kind of point are the guinea pigs as we learn inside the next 15-20 years how they actually affect us.”

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