In a further blow to San Francisco-based Juul Labs, researchers just published a report showing that the manufacturer’s e-cigarette delivers much more nicotine into a user’s bloodstream per puff than any competitor’s product, whether electronic or traditional cigarette. The January issue of Tobacco Regulatory Science discusses a study done at UC San Francisco that used rodents exposed to tobacco products, including Juul.

Astonishingly, the blood concentration of nicotine in the Juul-exposed rodents was eight times higher than the nicotine level of rodents exposed to another brand of e-cigarette. In comparison to regular cigarettes, the blood nicotine concentration in the Juul-exposed rodents was five times higher.

Adolescent Concerns

During the research process, the study measured equal amounts of puffs with each product tested. Researchers acknowledge that adult smokers who move from traditional cigarettes to vaping may be able to recognize and stop when they’ve reached the same level of nicotine normally consumed with their regular cigarettes. “However, adolescent non-smokers who are not familiar with the effects of nicotine may be more likely to chase higher levels of the drug’s effects,” according to Matthew Springer, the study’s senior author and a UCSF cardiology professor. He further noted that teens sometimes binge on Juul devices “to the point of rapid addiction and behavioral consequences.” Juul is the first to have presented a product that delivers nicotine at such high concentrations through the use of acidified nicotine salts.

Juul’s Response

Shortly after the study’s results were released, Juul responded with a statement that read:

“The JUUL device and e-liquid were designed to convert adult smokers from cigarettes. With this goal in mind, the JUUL team sought to create a nicotine-based e-liquid that mimicked the nicotine experience associated with cigarette use. Providing a similar nicotine experience was a priority given the fact that early generation e-cigarettes had failed in this respect and, as a result, did not convert a significant number of adult smokers from cigarettes.”

“As noted, through testing, the JUUL Labs team found that a vaporized salt-based formulation resembled the nicotine absorption in blood during initial uptake of a combustible cigarette, but at lower concentrations,” the release stated. “In terms of actual nicotine absorption, our clinical studies have consistently shown that JUUL use at 5 percent strengths results in an average nicotine uptake that is similar to, but lower in concentration than a commercial reference combustible cigarette. Our significant switch rates among adult smokers to JUUL products demonstrate the importance of these design and product choices.”

Juul Lawsuits

Regulators turned their attention increasingly toward Juul in 2019 after teenage vaping rose exponentially. The San Francisco manufacturer faces multiple lawsuits, and federal agencies have warned the company about its safety claims and marketing practices. UCSF researchers also discovered that the risk of chronic lung disease is significantly increased by vaping. In addition, study evidence reveals that individuals who both smoke and vape are at an even higher risk than individuals who just vape or smoke.

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