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Switching stories: user testimonials on juul.com continue to contradict JUUL’s switch ≠ cessation narrative
  1. Joanne G Patterson1,
  2. Devin T LaPolt2,
  3. Alexis R Miranda2,
  4. Patricia J Zettler1,3,4,
  5. Micah Berman1,3,5,
  6. Megan E Roberts1,6,
  7. Brittney Keller-Hamilton1,
  8. Amy K Ferketich1,7
  1. 1The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G James Cancer Hospital and Richard J Solove Research Institute, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  2. 2College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  3. 3Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  4. 4The Ohio State University Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Columbus, OH, United States
  5. 5College of Public Health, Division of Health Services Management and Policy, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  6. 6College of Public Health, Division of Health Behavior and Health Promotion, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  7. 7College of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joanne G Patterson, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G James Cancer Hospital and Richard J Solove Research Institute, Columbus, Ohio, USA; joanne.patterson{at}osumc.edu

Abstract

Background In January 2019, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) market leader Juul Labs (JUUL) launched an advertising campaign encouraging adult smokers to ‘make the switch’ from combustible cigarettes to JUUL. Our primary aim was to describe consumer perceptions of JUUL as communicated by members of JUUL’s online social community via testimonials promoted on JUUL’s website.

Methods User testimonials that were displayed on the JUUL website in December 2019 and January 2020 were collected and coded by three reviewers. A total of 220 testimonials were coded for primary and secondary themes (eight codes within four broader themes).

Results Testimonial writers were, on average, 43.0 years old (range 28 to 74) and reported using JUUL for an average of 21.8 months (range 9 to 59 months). The most prominent theme, present in nearly half of the testimonials, was a description of how to use JUUL, with a mention of JUUL’s benefits and tips on how to use the product. Nearly four in 10 statements encouraged smokers to give JUUL a try or noted that JUUL is a better product compared with cigarettes. About one in 10 statements focused on switching from smoking cigarettes to using JUUL.

Conclusion This study presents a foundation for understanding how adult users describe JUUL, including their experiences using JUUL to ‘switch’ or stop smoking. Currently, the effectiveness of ENDS for smoking cessation is not supported by substantial evidence; however, if cessation is defined as ‘quitting combustible tobacco products’, then regulators should be aware that switch and cessation messages may not be distinct.

  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • advertising and promotion
  • public policy
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Footnotes

  • Contributors JGP, AKF and PJZ substantially contributed to the conception and design of the study. JGP, DTL and ARM conducted all data analysis. All authors contributed to data interpretation, manuscript preparation and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center internal grant and dupported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number T32CA229114. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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

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