MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Since first entering the U.S. marketplace in 2007, e-cigarettes have been a rapidly evolving product class. Typically, national surveys provide annual, self-reported estimates of e-cigarette use among adults and youth. However, given the dynamic nature of the e-cigarettes landscape, data collected at a sub-annual level can be useful for identifying rapid changes and patterns. For example, retail sales data, which is available at more frequent intervals, such as weekly, can complement annual surveys and help keep a pulse on emerging trends. This study assessed e-cigarette retail sales data in the United States from 2013 through 2017.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The findings from this study show that e-cigarette sales in the United States varied widely during 2013 to 2017. While no single e-cigarette manufacturer dominated the market through 2013, British American Tobacco sales surged in 2014 and led into 2017. However, JUUL Laboratories’ market share increased 515 percent—from 2 percent in 2016 to 13 percent in 2017. By December of 2017, JUUL Laboratories’ sales comprised nearly 1 in 3 (29%) e-cigarette sales nationally, giving it the greatest market share in the United States.
This rapid shift in the e-cigarette market during 2016-2017 was due to increased sales of an e-cigarette resembling a USB flash drive, called JUUL.
It is important to note that sales data don’t tell us information about the purchaser. For example, the sales reported in this study could reflect products purchased by adults who were attempting to quit smoking cigarettes. However, many of the sales likely reflect products obtained directly or indirectly by youth. A recent analysis found that 74% of youth who used JUUL reported obtaining the device from a physical retail store.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Sales of JUUL have skyrocketed in the United States. This is a public health concern because these products are popular among youth. Use of JUUL by youth in schools, including classrooms and bathrooms, has been widely reported.
The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that the use of products containing nicotine in any form among youth, including in e-cigarettes, is unsafe. Most e-cigarettes, including JUUL, contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development, which continues into the mid-20s.The use of certain USB-shaped e-cigarettes, like JUUL, is especially dangerous among youth because these products contain very high levels of nicotine, which can be inhaled more easily and with less irritation than other e-cigarettes on the market. JUUL’s discreet shape and flavors could also be particularly appealing to, and problematic for, youth.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Given the continued popularity of e-cigarettes among youth and young adults, it’s important to monitor the use of e-cigarettes, especially to keep a pulse on new and emerging products that may gain popularity among young people. Further detail on why youth use these products, where youth access these products, and how frequently they use these products would also be beneficial. This type of research could help inform public health policy, planning, and practice aimed at addressing this preventable health risk among our nation’s young people.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: We know what works to prevent youth from using tobacco products, and the same proven strategies apply to emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes.
Regulating the sale, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products, coupled with proven population-based strategies, can reduce youth tobacco use and initiation. These proven strategies include increasing prices of tobacco products, protecting everyone from exposure to secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol, preventing youth access to tobacco products, and sustaining hard-hitting media campaigns like FDA’s The Real Cost campaign that warns youth about the dangers of tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes.
But everyone can play a role in helping youth to recognize and avoid the dangers of e-cigarette use. Parents in particular can set a positive example by being tobacco-free, and ensuring that their kids aren’t exposed to the secondhand emissions from any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. We know e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth and that many youth aren’t aware of the dangers of these products, including the negative impacts of nicotine exposure on the developing adolescent brain. Therefore, ensuring that youth are aware of the risks of using all forms of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, is critical.
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