Another factor to consider is social media. The regulations surrounding actual advertising are fairly rigid, prohibiting paid promotion on TV, radio, online through social media or email marketing or through sponsored posts(9). In the States, following the peak of the vaping epidemic, Juul deleted their social platforms entirely and in 2019, the US made it illegal to sell or market to under-21s(10). What this doesn’t factor in is non-paid for promotions.
Platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter expose teenagers to marketing on an almost constant basis. While many pages will express an 18+ only rule, without having either age verification for teens signing up to these apps or some sort of regulation on the kinds of posts allowable, they’ll continue to be exposed to e-cigarettes online.
Another app that’s widely used by teens is of course TikTok. TikTok is a 12+ rated app and is incredibly popular amongst teenagers. The video hosting platform has a growing trend, particularly in the US of accounts promoting the sale of Juul devices and the likes of Puffbars, a similar pod-style device(10). They offer to package them up discreetly, often shipping the devices with other cloaking products like clothing. This black market style of selling e-cigarettes is difficult to police and without heavy intervention from the app itself, it’s a trend that will likely persevere.