- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2018

JUUL Labs on Wednesday announced a public service campaign targeted toward parents to better inform them about their electronic cigarette products and the dangers of use by teenagers.

The campaign is expected to run sometime in June in print, online and radio in “select markets,” according to a statement from the company.

The print message emphasizes that the product contains nicotine and that it is an addictive chemical. It also mentions the company’s mission statement, that its goal is to provide an alternative for 1 billion adult smokers around the world and eliminate cigarettes.

The bottom of the ad reads: “JUUL is for adult smokers. If you don’t smoke or vape, don’t start.”

“This campaign further builds on our ongoing efforts to raise awareness and combat teenage use, and we believe providing transparent and factual information to parents will help keep JUUL out of the hands of young people,” Kevin Burns, CEO of JUUL Labs, said in a statement.

“While we remain steadfast in our commitment to helping adult smokers who want to switch from combustible cigarettes, we also want to be part of the solution in deterring minors from ever trying JUUL,” he added.

The campaign is one of the first parts of a three-year, $30 million investment in efforts to combat underage use through independent research, youth and parent education and community engagement, the company said.

It also offers up to $10,000 to schools for anti-smoking prevention classes for youths.

While students have posted videos on social media showing them using JUUL at school, in restaurants or at the mall, a number of teens have also posted stories online about their distress of being addicted to the product.

The Food and Drug Administration has sent 40 warning letters to brick-and-mortar and online retailers for the illegal, underage sale of the product.

JUUL is an electronic cigarette, a rectangular device that fits in the palm of ones hand. Its criticized by public health advocates as looking similar to a USB device and easily concealed.

The product uses interchangeable “pods” filled with a salt-based nicotine mixture that comes in a variety of flavors like cucumber melon, creme brûlée, fruit medley, menthol and tobacco, among others.

The print ads also emphasize that each JUUL contains an equivalent amount of nicotine compared to a pack of cigarettes.

The 1-minute radio spot portrays a mother and father approaching their teenage son to talk about “this vaping thing.” A narrator voices over the family banter to better explain the company’s tagline, that JUUL was created as an alternative for adult smokers and “JUUL is not for kids.”

Yet as the ad play goes on, it takes a page from former Big Tobacco youth-prevention education campaigns, emphasizing that teen smoking is a result of peer pressure.

The radio ad says: “… many kids try to fit in or feel pressured by their friends to try vapor products.”

Missing from any of the ads is how people popularly refer to using JUUL, as “JUULing” and that teenagers view it as something completely separate from vaping or smoking cigarettes.

The radio spot does point out that vaping products and JUUL contain addictive nicotine and adds as a disclaimer, “If you don’t smoke or vape, don’t start.”

• Laura Kelly can be reached at lkelly@washingtontimes.com.

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