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JUUL and other stealth vaporisers: hiding the habit from parents and teachers
  1. Divya Ramamurthi,
  2. Cindy Chau,
  3. Robert K Jackler
  1. Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Robert K Jackler, Department of Otolaryngology, Stanford University, 801 Welch Road, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; jackler{at}


Background Some consumers wish to use vapour devices discreetly so that family members, teachers and coworkers do not recognise their use of nicotine ortetrahydrocannabinol (THC) laden vapour.

Methods Stealthy vapour devices, as well as low-odour and low-vapour e-juices, were identified via a comprehensive online search between March and June 2018.

Results As evidence of their popularity, a search for ‘stealth vaping’ on YouTube found 18 200 videos. A variety of cleverly designed vapour devices disguised as USB sticks, pens, remote controls, car fobs, smart phones, sweatshirt drawstrings and even asthma inhalers are on the market. JUUL, which resembles a USB stick, is the archetype of these devices and is especially popular among youth. A search of ‘JUUL’ on YouTube yielded 148 000 videos with 57 videos having >100 000 views. Searches on ‘JUUL at school’ (15 500), ‘JUUL in class’ (6840), ‘hiding JUUL in school (2030) and ‘JUUL in school bathroom’ (1040) illustrate the product’s popularity among students. Some e-juices promote themselves as having low visibility plumes while others profess to be of subtle odour to avoid detection. Numerous techniques have been described to hide the exhaled vapour plume such as by swallowing it or blowing it into one’s clothing or into a backpack.

Conclusions The vaping industry has demonstrated much ingenuity in devising discreet vaporisers and de-emphasising exhaled vapour plumes and their aroma. The US market for vaping devices with stealthy characteristics is anything but inconspicuous, with JUUL alone accounting for 70.5% of sales (July 2018).

  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • advertising and promotion
  • priority/special populations
  • nicotine
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  • Contributors RKJ conceived the project. RKJ and DR wrote the manuscript. CC assisted in manuscript and image editing. All three authors are responsible for research on stealth vaporisers.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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