As e-cigarette brand JUUL continues to climb in popularity among users of all ages, researchers took a unique approach to analysing its impact by using Twitter to investigate any mention of nicotine effects, symptoms of dependence and withdrawal in regards to its use.
The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, reveals that one out of every five tweets mentioning JUUL identified for the analysis also referenced addiction-related themes.
“Many news stories have reported that people are using JUUL and experiencing what sound like acute effects of nicotine exposure and symptoms of dependence,” said study lead author Jaime Sidani from University of Pittsburgh.
“We turned to Twitter to gather real-time data on what people are sharing about their JUUL use,” Sidani said.
To complete the study, the research team created search filters within Twitter’s Filtered Streams interface to collect data on all available tweets matching the terms “juul,” “juuls” and “juuling,” as well as their hashtag equivalents between April 11, 2018, and June 16, 2018.
After additional narrowing of search results by implementing specific keywords, excluding commercial content and ensuring the tweets were in first-person context, a final data set of 1,986 tweets remained for final analysis by two independent coders.
Of these tweets, 21.1 per cent were coded as being related to dependence (335 tweets), nicotine effects (189 tweets), quitting JUUL or withdrawal or both (42 tweets).
According to the researchers, these findings are not surprising when considering the powerful dose of nicotine that JUUL provides.
In addition, JUUL uses a nicotine salt formula, which is designed to increase the rate of absorption and create a more palatable vapor, making JUUL a more appealing option compared to other modes of nicotine delivery.