In a report published in the new issue of Tobacco Regulatory Science, the researchers found that rodents exposed to Juul showed nicotine concentrations that were five times higher than cigarettes, and eight times higher than other e-cigarettes. The study also found that Juul hinders the function of blood vessels in a way that’s similar to cigarette smoke.
For the study, the researchers noted that they measured nicotine concentration in the rodents after exposing them to an equal numbers of puffs of Juul, another e-cigarette, a regular cigarette and clean air. The researchers noted this caveat, explaining that adults who use e-cigarettes or Juul to wean off regular cigarettes may smoke less as they’ll stop when they reach the level of nicotine they regularly consume. But the researchers highlighted the results of their study in terms of the reportedly rampant use of Juul and e-cigarette products among teenagers.
“[A]dolescent non-smokers who are not familiar with the effects of nicotine may be more likely to chase higher levels of the drug’s effects,” said UCSF cardiology professor Matthew Springer, who headed up the study. “The ease of over-consuming nicotine with Juul makes this likely, especially in light of reports of teenagers binging on Juul to the point of rapid addiction and behavioral consequences.”
One reason why Juul delivers more nicotine than other e-cigarettes has to do with the introduction of acidified nicotine salts. While Juul pods, like other e-cigarettes, comprise a mix of vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, other flavors and nicotine, the acidified nicotine salts are unique to Juul and make it “easier to inhale and deliver nicotine at substantially higher concentrations.”
Per CBS’ KPIX affiliate in San Francisco, Juul released a statement in response to the study, saying their products were “designed to convert adult smokers from cigarettes” by providing a “similar nicotine experience,” which other e-cigarettes and failed to do.
“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 statement said. “In terms of actual nicotine absorption, our clinical studies have consistently shown that Juul use at five 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.”
The UCSF study arrived amidst a major Food and Drug Administration decision to ban most flavored vaping cartridges in an attempt to check e-cigarette use among teenagers and children. The policy specially targets flavored cartridges or pods, like Juul, while exempting larger vaping devices that are mostly sold in vape shops.