JUUL’s advertising is central to our e-cigarette lawsuit. It is also a major point of concern for critics who blame the company’s bright, fun ads and robust social media presence for hooking a new generation of nicotine users. Though the company has significantly scaled back its corporate social media profile, e-cigarettes are still massively visible online.
According to a study conducted by University of California researchers and published in the journal Frontiers in Communication, Instagram posts marketing and promoting e-cigarettes outnumbered anti-e-cigarette posts 10,000 to one. The study aimed to understand whether anti-vaping campaigns, such as the US FDA’s “The Real Cost” campaign, which launched in 2018, had any impact.
“The FDA campaign on social media, it’s great that it’s there, but it’s not changing the trend of high prevalence of pro-vaping content,” lead study author Julia Vassey told the National Post in January. “The FDA campaign just becomes a drop in the ocean, practically, because it’s so hard to compete with the enormous volume of pro-vaping advertisements.”
The research team used deep learning technology to analyze tens of thousands of pro-vaping posts. It found that the most popular featured female models using e-cigarettes and men performing ‘vape tricks.’ The analysis confirms a central fear of everyone involved in an e-cigarette lawsuit: that pro-JUUL content targets young people’s vulnerabilities.
“That’s one of the dangerous things, youth are very susceptible to any type of influence that is so well advertised,” Vassey said to the Post. “Their brains are still developing, it’s hard to resist. They want to fit in and they want to be cool. All the marketing strategies are so well crafted in the pro-cigarette message.”
Facebook, which owns Instagram, is the biggest social media advertising platform on earth. Last year, it announced that influencers and e-cigarette manufacturers would no longer be allowed to collaborate on branded content. In Canada, the federal government also announced plans for a widespread ban on e-cigarette promotions, including on social media.
These are important measures which will surely reduce youth exposure to pro-vaping messages, but there are millions of young people across North America for whom this progress comes too late. If you currently vape using JUUL or have JUULed in the past, fill out the confidential case review form on our homepage for a free case assessment. You may be eligible for compensation through our e-cigarette lawsuit.