DENVER, Colo., September 25, 2019- (24/7MarketNews via COMTEX) The many problems with vaping, AKA Juuling, have finally received much needed media attention, but, for far too many kids, the horse is already out of the barn, thanks to one of the most toxic social media campaigns.
Before I continue, I want to make this crystal clear; I’ve heard enough stories about people vaping their way out of nicotine addiction to believe that there are benefits to the product and all adults should be free to be responsible for their own choices, especially regarding health.
Furthermore, I’m sure that most social media content, while mind-numbing, is usually fairly harmless. Yet, advertisers know that when some idiot does the Tide pod challenge, or some other dumb stunt that gets millions of views, common sense is thrown out the window.
With this in mind, Juul used Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), which utilize addiction patterns, to create slick marketing, based on proven social media behavior habits, to build a multi-billion dollar company on the backs of the addicted, including easily exploited children.
We’re now seeing the stories about a growing vaping lung disease epidemic, which, according to NBC, includes 530 cases and 9 deaths. Many may think, “well, the kids are vaping marijuana cartridges off the street, or dabbing THC products,” which has some validity, but most of the vaping surge, and accompanying drug addicting nicotine sales, can be traced back to Juul’s marketing campaigns.
The only drug more addictive than nicotine is heroin and Juul appears to be attempting to disrupt the corner pusher, by targeting kids with cool ads and social media influencers. Your children were told that it’s safer than smoking and, if you’re anything like me, it’s pretty tough to turn down vanilla, mango, and raspberry.
The market disruption, according to the CDC, consists of “nearly 1 in 20 middle school students have tried an E-cigarette (4.9%) and nearly 1 out of 5 high school students reporting using over the last 30 days (20%).” This is happening as cigarette companies are trying to survive with declining sales, so, instead of shutting down Juul, Altria (NYSE:MO) rewarded it with a $12.8 billion investment.
The accompanying $38 billion valuation seems like a stretch, but Juul’s real value was its viral marketing, which circumvented the existing tobacco product marketing laws.
Plus, while it may just be coincidental, there must be a ton of value in what psychologists say is “A growing body of evidence also points to the role of non-nicotine factors in supporting smoking behavior. Anecdotally, smokers prefer smoking to other forms of nicotine administration (e.g. patch, gum, nasal spray) and in the lab, smokers have been shown to prefer smoking a denicotinised cigarette over receiving intravenous nicotine (Rose et al., 2010). Smokers also report enjoying the sensory and tactile components of smoking, including the hand-mouth activity, taste, smell and sensations in the respiratory tract (Parrot & Craig, 1995) and if these sensations are removed, smoking satisfaction declines (Perkins et al., 2001). In fact, a number of studies have now reported that denicotinised tobacco smoking can alleviate nicotine withdrawal symptoms and craving (Rose et al., 2010) as well as elicit positive subjective effects comparable to smoking tobacco that contains nicotine (Barrett & Darredeau, 2012).
These studies were conducted well before Juul’s 5% nicotine pods hit the market and the USB sized nicotine charge devices have allowed kids to smoke at school, home, or anywhere else, undetected throughout the day. So, in addition to the addictive changes to their personality and brains, they’re developing the equivalent of a 1-2 pack a day.
Apparently, the reports of exploding vaping devices removing jaws, or the burning and maiming other body parts, were as motivating as the FDA’s toothless warnings to Juul about marketing to youths and, more recently, against labeling their products as “much safer than cigarettes”, “totally safe”, or a “safer alternative” to smoking. Despite creating untold numbers of new nicotine addicts, there has been no consequence for circumventing existing laws.
Now we have hundreds of sick youths, some deaths, with certainly more to come, and these should be desperados are profiting from it. Parents are left to clean up the addicted teen user mess and Juul executives are sitting rich in Silicon Valley, spending ill-gotten gains made by convincing unsuspecting youth that they would become like the good looking young models using these devices, but nobody looks like that after a lifelong nicotine addiction.
Most other addiction epidemics, like crack, couldn’t be traced back to a few companies, so, rather than punish the real suppliers, it was the victims who ended up in jail, but, in this case, Juul lit a new deadly epidemic fuse and they’re among the many who shouldn’t be allowed to hide from the truth.
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