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On the popularity of the USB flash drive-shaped electronic cigarette Juul
  1. Ramakanth Kavuluru1,2,
  2. Sifei Han2,
  3. Ellen J Hahn3
  1. 1Division of Biomedical Informatics, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
  2. 2Department of Computer Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
  3. 3College of Nursing, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ramakanth Kavuluru, Division of Biomedical Informatics, Department of Internal Medicine, Lexington KY 40506, USA; ramakanth.kavuluru{at}uky.edu

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Introduced in mid 2015, Juul is currently the most popular electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) with a market share of 49.6% (last four weeks as of 27 January 2018) and year-over-year growth of over 700% based on Nielsen market data.1 Juul is a compact closed system device charged via USB (figure 1) and comes with disposable flavoured pods each of which contains 0.7 mL with 5% nicotine by weight. Each pod is nearly equivalent to one pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs according to official Juul documentation (from http://www.juulvapor.com), which also states that Juul is specifically ‘designed with smokers in mind’ and is ‘for adult smokers seeking a satisfying alternative to cigarettes’. To order Juul online, age verification (+21 years) is required and implemented through a third-party verification service provider. The purpose of this letter is to describe initial observations of recent Juul-related messages on two different social networks (Twitter and Reddit) and traditional media.

Figure 1

(A) Juul device as it fits in a palm (courtesy: UW Daily). (B) Juul connected to a MacBook Air via a USB charger (courtesy: Juul Labs website).

Juul messages on Twitter

We collected 250 873 tweets mentioning the word ‘juul’ and its variants ‘juuling’ and ‘juuled’ from 19 October 2017 and 14 February 2018 using Twitter’s free-streaming API service. Due to rate limits imposed by Twitter Inc. on free data collection using their API, this dataset does not represent an exhaustive set of tweets matching our keywords during that period. This is also a filtered set and excludes tweets generated by organisations and users whose user name contains ‘juul’ (potentially part of their actual name). Only a third of the data (84 729 tweets) represent unique tweets, the rest arising from the retweet mechanism. The duplicates from the top 10 retweeted messages account for 29% of the full dataset (72 521 retweets). Next, we make some observations …

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