Methods: Systematic study of JUUL’s social media channels(Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) as well as emails from 2015 to 2019 to understand JUUL’s principal advertising themes and target audience. We also conducted online searches from November 2018 to February 2019, to identify JUUL-a-like devices.JUUL-a-like was defined as a small pod-based system of similar size to JUUL.
Results:As February 2019, 2691 Twitter, 248 Facebook and 187 Instagram posts, and 190 customer directed marketing emails from JUUL controlled accounts analyzed. We found many similarities in the promotion of JUUL with Marlboro (leading combustible cigarette brand among youth). JUUL’s principal advertising themes are closely aligned with that of Marlboro advertising (pleasure/relaxation, socialization/romance, style/ identity, and satisfaction). JUUL’s pack colors in red (maroon), blue, and gold closely resemble Marlboro pack coloration launched with their new brand architecture in 2008. Our study also identified 28 e-cigarette brands that imitate JUUL in their design including 15 brands that offer JUUL compatible pods. All brands offered youth-oriented flavors and were available in nicotine concentrations of (≥5%).
Conclusion: JUUL’s advertising was widely distributed on social media channels, amplified by hashtag extensions, and catalyzed by compensated influencers. Its social media channels, especially Instagram, has a viral presence although JUUL itself has disbanded use of social media in the United States. JUUL’s success has led to the marketing of a number of copy-cat devices. The wide availability of stealth devices poses a concern as it enables covert use of nicotine.