Background The novel e-cigarette product JUUL has experienced rapid market growth. The online auction site eBay has been mentioned as a source of JUUL access for youth, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified eBay to remove JUUL listings in April 2018. We sought to characterise the sale of JUUL products on eBay prior to the FDA’s request, document the impact of this request and explore ways in which eBay vendors bypassed this effort.
Methods eBay was searched for JUUL-branded products sold by US vendors in March 2018, yielding a sample of 197 listings for devices and/or pods. Each listing was coded for product, listing and youth access content. Following FDA action, each listing was revisited to determine its status, and each vendor’s page was searched for JUUL and other vaping content. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics.
Results Of 197 eBay listings, 189 were for JUUL kits and 13 were for pods. Prices were on average higher than those on the official JUUL store, and language about age restrictions was rare. Following FDA contact, most listings were no longer active. However, 3.4% of these vendors still sold JUUL devices or pods and 15.5% were selling other vaporisers or nicotine products.
Conclusions Online platforms may lack the will or expertise to effectively monitor content for tobacco products, while vendors quickly adapt to minor changes with simple strategies such as spelling variations. Accurate identification of online e-cigarette vendors is essential to the enforcement of policy and may benefit from cross-sector partnerships.
- tobacco sales
- internet sales
Statistics from Altmetric.com
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Contributors Both authors developed the study and performed content analysis. YW performed statistical analysis. LL led manuscript preparation. Both authors reviewed the final manuscript.
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.
Data sharing statement Raw data and PDFs of eBay listings are available upon request.