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Nicotine addictions increasingly driving vape users back to cigarettes

A picture of Juul products.
Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A new Los Angeles Times report details a painfully ironic contradiction: Vape users turning to cigarettes to cope with their nicotine addictions, challenging vapes' original purpose of helping cigarette users quit smoking altogether.

The big picture: As cigarette use has declined, e-cigarettes and vaping are seeing a sharp increase in popularity — but not without pushback. Just last week, Juul, a vaping technology, faced backlash from lawmakers for being advertised as less harmful than cigarettes without approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

  • A recent surge in vaping-related illness caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to release a statement warning against the broad use of vapes.
  • Juul is also being targeted for allegedly marketing to youth. States attorneys are seeking to prevent increased youth use through a series of lawsuits and investigations, while the Trump administration last week announced plans to pull all flavored e-cigarette cartridges from the market.

What they're saying: In a statement to the LA Times, Juul said its product is designed to "help adult smokers switch from combustible cigarettes to an alternative nicotine delivery system.”

  • But some Juul users are backsliding. Dr. Amanda Graham of Truth Initiative, an anti-tobacco group, says she's witnessed users succumbing to "desperation and misguided approaches" to stump their nicotine addictions.
  • “Young people are fumbling in the dark with what seems logical,” Graham told the Times. "But there is no safe level of cigarette smoking."
  • A Juul user who quit the device following significant breathing problems told the Times: "I think a lot of people are quitting completely or going back to cigarettes ... maybe [vaping] isn’t as safe as we once thought."

Go deeper: New arrests shed light on vaping's black market