Background JUUL, a high-tech, popular vaping device, was the first major electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) brand to incorporate social media into its marketing strategy. There is growing concern around the increasing use of JUUL and other electronic nicotine delivery devices among youth, and their potential to addict a new generation to nicotine. The current study analysed the amount and characteristics of JUUL-related posts on Instagram, a social media platform used frequently among youth and young adults.
Methods Hashtag-based keyword queries (n=50) were used to collect JUUL-related posts from the Instagram application programming interface, March 2018–May 2018. Using a combination of machine learning methods, keyword algorithms and human coding, posts were characterised as featuring content related to product promotion, nicotine and addiction, youth culture and lifestyle.
Results Keyword queries captured 14 838 JUUL-relevant posts by 5201 unique users. Over one-third of posts were promotional (eg, linked to commercial website) and 11% contained nicotine and addiction-related information. Approximately half of posts featured content related to youth (55%) or lifestyle (57%). Youth-related content or lifestyle appeals were also notably present within promotional posts and nicotine and addiction-related posts, respectively. Nicotine and addiction-related posts featured memes, hashtags (eg, #nichead, #juulbuzz) and tag lines (eg, ‘more flavor, more buzz’).
Conclusions Findings reveal a proliferation of JUUL-related content on Instagram, which focused on product promotion and nicotine and addiction that included youth culture and lifestyle appeals. Regulatory actions should focus on restricting promotional efforts for e-cigarette products, particularly on social media platforms where young people are a primary audience.
- electronic nicotine delivery devices
- public policy
- advertising and promotion
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Correction notice The second bullet point in the box entitled ‘What this paper adds’ at the end of the article is amended as follows: 'JUUL is a popular high-tech vaping device and there is concern that JUUL and the burgeoning category of JUUL-like e-cigarettes could addict a new generation of users'.
Contributors LC, GK, SNP, GS, SLE, DV and ECH contributed to the design of the study. GK and YK performed the analyses. LC, GK and SNP wrote the manuscript. All authors contributed to revising the manuscript and approved the final version for submission.
Funding This study was funded by Truth Initiative.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.