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Juul's social media draws worrying numbers of teenagers, studying findings

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CBS NEWS – The electronic cigarette brand Juul is famous for its popularity among teens. Although the company has promised not to market for minors, a new study shows that many young people are exposed to the device through social media.

Research from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California finds underage children make up 25 percent of Juul’s followers on Twitter.

“Juul’s posts go out to their followers, those users then retweet in their own accounts and the message is propagated within the social network, and eventually reaches many youth accounts in a short while,” says Dr. Jon-Patrick Allem, CBS News .

Juul is similar to a flash drive and can be connected to a computer to load. A “pod” of liquid containing nicotine is loaded into the device and heated, with the user inhaling the steam. That steam contains about twice the concentration of nicotine found in other e-cigarettes, “said the authors. It also comes in a variety of youth-friendly flavors, including mango and fruit medley.

Research shows that young people are exposed to e-cigarette marketing and that ads are more likely to use the devices. Allem says that it is a public health problem.

“Use of nicotine among adolescents reduces brain development. And young people may become addicted to nicotine via electronic cigarettes,” he said. “Research has shown that initiation with electronic cigs can lead to initiation with combustible cigs.”

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 out of every 10 cigarette smokers started before 18 years of age.

For the study, Researchers collected 3 239 tweets from Juul’s official Twitter account, @JUULvapor, for one year between February 2017 and January 2018. These tweets were retweeted 1 124 times by 721 unique Twitter users. The users’ Twitter profiles were then examined to determine whether the individual was under 18 years old. The results of the study are published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Juul says it is taking measures to prevent and combat minor use.

In a statement, the company says it has “worked aggressively with social media platforms to remove services and accounts showing our product in unauthorized and youth oriented ways. In just six months this year, we helped out over 8,000 lists, 450 accounts and 18,000 marketing data online. “

In June, Juul’s executive Ashley Gould said” CBS This Morning “company had changed its marketing strategy and did not mean to attract teenagers.

“I will take the criticism we should have known. I will take that criticism, but we know now. We are working very hard. And we are committed,” said Gould.

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