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Have you heard this one about vaping giant JUUL Labs?  

The main reason it grew so quickly to dominate more than 70 percent of the U.S. market was its clever and manipulative attraction of minors via the initial marketing campaigns for the San Francisco-based company.    

It’s true, according to HealthDay News 

Highlighted in an article published May 20 in the health journal JAMA Pediatrics, a study looked back at the last half-decade and concluded JUUL used social media to connect with teenagers and expand its fledgling product.  

Sponsored by the Center for Health Policy Science and Tobacco Research in Research Triangle Park, N.C., the new study pointed to about half of the company’s Twitter followers are 18 years old or under and a major percentage of followers are 24 and younger.  

Annice Kim, the study’s lead researcher explained the findings, focusing on its premise on how unhealthy nicotine can be to minors.   

“The rise of e-cigarettes and the lack of regulation around marketing with its appeal to youth is now addicting a whole generation of youth on nicotine,” Kim said.  

In response to recent pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), JUUL previously decided to unplug its social media messages. Company officials closed its presence on Facebook and Instagram and shuttered promotional advertisements on Twitter, according to Healthday News 

In a prepared executive statement, JUUL said: “We don’t want youth using our product. As a result, we share the researchers’ stated interest in restricting underage engagement with our limited social-media activities.”  

Regardless, Kim suggested, the impact of JUUL’s messages were already apparent. Kim’s research team studies the habits of 10,000 individuals who follow JUUL on Twitter. The study estimated 45 percent were high-school aged kids (13 to 17 years old), 44 percent were aged 18 to 24 and nearly 11 percent were at least 21 years old.   

Have you heard this one before?  

JUUL defended its actions and questioned the methodology of the research project. Company officials said in a statement, their information conflicts “significantly from data Twitter made available to us.”   

Healthday News reported JUUL contends only 3.9 percent of its Twitter followers in May 2018 were teens.   

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