Oliver Law Group P.C.
Teenagers Are Especially Vulnerable to Addiction – Juul Capitalized on It
Nicotine makes you feel good. It helps release neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, beta-endorphins, glutamate, and acetylcholine, which are associated with good feelings like pleasure, mood modulation, reduced anxiety and tension, and arousal. When nicotine leaves your bloodstream, however, your brain will crave it.
If you are under 26-years-old, your brain is still maturing and is thus more vulnerable to the changes these cravings create, also known as addiction. Teens who smoke or vape are also more vulnerable to high-risk behaviors and tobacco’s potential gateway effect, which leads to the misuse of alcohol, marijuana, and hard drugs in the future.
In the United States, 35 states recognize addiction and its “downstream effects” as an injury.
The DSM-V categorizes tobacco use disorder as:
- Unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control tobacco use
- Tobacco cravings
- Recurrent use of tobacco in physically hazardous situations
- Arguments or personal sacrifices tied to tobacco use
- Using tobacco to alleviate withdrawal symptoms
- Neglecting health or responsibilities in favor of tobacco use
While the DSM-5 is considered “dated,” the above determiners still come up in more modern clinical diagnoses of nicotine dependence, including:
- The Fagerström Tolerance Questionnaire (FTQ)
- The Modified FTQ (mFTQ)
- The Nicotine Dependence Syndrome Scale (NDSS)
- The Hooked-on Nicotine Checklist (HONC)
- The Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND)
No matter how it is categorized, there is increasing evidence that nicotine use and addiction have potentially severe consequences for teenagers. Addiction affects the prefrontal cortex and can cause psychiatric disorders and cognitive impairment in the brain area responsible for executive functions and attention performance.
Juul’s Social Media Strategy
By conducting a marketing strategy on social media, Juul knowingly targeted Generation Z, the largest generation in the United States as of 2017. Unfortunately, Gen-Z is also the youngest generation in the United States, with all members born after 1997. Most members of Gen-Z are present-day middle and high school students. They have never experienced the world without the internet and are deeply immersed in social media and other online activities.
About 63% of teens aged 13-17 and 78% of teens aged 15-17 use Instagram and 98% of teens in all age groups use YouTube. Juul did not target these media by accident. In fact, they developed catchy hashtags and recruited influencers and models to spread the word. The hashtag #JUULmoment created a startlingly young online community and JUUL’s flavor campaigns made #MangoMonday and #coolmint the most popular flavors among minors ages 12 to 17.
One of the perks of online marketing for Juul was that users created free content for the company. Inspired by an influencer, a Juul user might post their own #JUULmoment, free of charge to the company. In 2016, Juul CEO Kevin Burns admitted:
“User-generated social media posts involving Juul products or our brand are proliferating across platforms and must be swiftly addressed… there is no question that this user-generated social media content is linked to the appeal of vaping to underage users.”
Juul’s Success and Controversy
In response to public backlash, Juul has shut down its social accounts and reduced its output of content. This action only happened after the company’s teen marketing strategy had already enjoyed tremendous success.
According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey:
- Juul owns 70-80% of the entire e-cigarette market
- E-cigarette use has increased by 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students
- 42% of high schoolers have tried an e-cigarette
- 3% of middle schoolers have vaped
The statistics above demonstrate an alarming fact: for many teens, it is already too late.
The Good News: You Can Still Take Action
If you or a teen you know has been affected by nicotine addiction after using Juul products, you may be able to pursue compensation. Damages from a successful personal injury lawsuit can help you explore treatment for nicotine addiction or provide financial comfort in the wake of irreparable losses.
We are available and offer free consultations. Don’t wait – call today!