As the e-cigarette brand JUUL continues to rise in popularity among young people, the Food and Drug Administration has begun to pass regulations in an attempt to keep their products away from minors, with potential lingering impacts on college campuses. 

The most recent of these regulations, passed Sept. 12, gives a 60-day warning to any vendors to enact a plan to restrict their product from minors.

This is the beginning to the FDA’s crack down on the e-cigarette industry, which has managed to make itself a staple of college campus culture. While the FDA’s main concern is the usage of these products by those under 18, recent actions will affect the thousands of consumers on college campuses  as they continue to regulate JUUL and its competitors.

Megan Piper, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, said JUUL and other e-cigarette brands have been very successful within the past 3 years at designing and marketing their products, including efforts to distance themselves from the typical negative perception of nicotine.

“When [e-cigarettes] first came in the market in 2003, they were designed to look like cigarettes,” Piper said. “Over time, the companies moved to having their designs look like cigarettes and, in addition, were able to make them so that they deliver a better hit of nicotine.”

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According to the CTRI website, these designs have been so successful that most e-cigarette users do not correlate these devices at all with traditional perceptions of cigarettes ­­— 93 percent of consumers are not aware that these products even contain nicotine.

The most concerning consumers of these products are those under the age of 18. According to the CTRI, 5.5 percent of middle school students and 14.4 percent of high school students report vaping.

“This is concerning because of the chemical change in the brain that nicotine causes,” Piper said. “Constant consumption of nicotine increases dopamine receptors on the brain. When someone isn’t consuming nicotine, the body does not produce enough dopamine to fill these receptors, which then causes withdrawal symptoms and ultimately addiction.”

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Piper said these effects can be even more severe on children, since their brain is still developing, citing a 2012 study from Cold Spring Harbor Perspective in Medicine.

According to the study, nicotine severely affects the development of the frontal lobe of adolescents. This can affect cognitive functions — the ability to recognize and react to the environment. It also affects attention, which gets gradually worse as the smoking continues.

The beginning stages of the FDA’s plan — to ask companies to prove they can keep the products away from minors — won’t affect those over 18. However, if retailers and manufacturers fail to provide proof, an FDA press release said it will begin to restrict flavor additives into the vaping products.

“It is hard to have people police themselves,” Piper said. “A more effective way to stop the youth from consuming this would be to take away the flavors from the pods, this would take away a huge part of the experience and would cut back the incentive.”

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This strategy was previously put in place with cigarettes. In 2009, the FDA banned all flavored cigarettes except for menthol in an effort to reduce the appeal to children. Piper said doing so with JUULs and other e-cigarettes would have the same effect.

The question for college students, then, is whether regulations like these will stop them from consuming the product.

UW junior Megan Roberts said while it might have some impact on how much casual partygoers consume the product, e-cigarettes are so embedded in the culture and people are so “into it” that it may take more than that to reduce consumptions.

“There is more to JUUL-ing than the flavors,” Roberts said. “People want it for the buzz of the nicotine and younger kids are constantly trying to copy college students nowadays that I don’t think removing flavors will do what it’s trying to do.”

Unless there is a complete ban of the products, Roberts said another brand will simply rise in its place if JUUL’s popularity takes a hit.