Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
19 December 2018
Vaping: An epidemic for teens and the end of an industry
The US Surgeon General, the so called “Nation’s Doctor,” released a rare advisory this week calling vaping an epidemic for youth.
Why this is such a big deal? Because the Surgeon General rarely issues advisories like this. In fact, only two advisories have been issued from 2005 until this year. There were two in 2018, one around the necessity of family and friends of opioid abusers to carry naloxone, an overdose reversal medication.
And yesterday’s advisory on vaping.
The advisories themselves hold no power other than to inform the public. But, because they are issued so rarely, they are an immediate call to action. One which is sure to get the Food and Drug Administration, the agency with power, to get off its ass and do something.
In many ways, this is a day of reckoning for the e-cigarette industry. To me, it is similar to the sudden realization that Joe Camel, with its Camel Cash in the ’90’s, served as a clever ploy to get kids to light up.
“The fact of the matter is that JULL stands in the cross hairs of a health epidemic. How it responds in the coming weeks and months will dictate if it can survive as a company.”
The effect of the vaping advisory
Make no mistake, vaping and teenagers don’t mix. Some reports say kids can get wet lung. And certainly nicotine is not exactly healthy, especially when considering still-developing brains.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration’s National Youth Tobacco Survey, an increase of 75% of high schoolers reported vaping in 2017 than in 2016. For middle schoolers, that percentage increased 50%.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that, “In the data sets we use, we have never seen use of any substance by America’s young people rise as rapidly as e-cigarette use is rising,”
But what I find especially crazy about this rare advisory is that it names a single manufacturer, JUUL. (JUUL holds 70% market share in the e-cig category.) The report says a typical JUUL pod has as much nicotine as 20 regular cigarettes. I can’t say for sure that JUUL is the reason kids are vaping. But it’s clear the Surgeon General of the United States feels like it plays a big role in it.
The fact of the matter is that JULL stands in the cross hairs of a health epidemic. How it responds in the coming weeks and months will dictate if it can survive as a company. Based on experience, JUUL should take the high road and vow to fight this epidemic in more than just words. That would result in lost market share, but it’s better than vanishing as a company.
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