JUUL, a discrete pod-style e-cigarette, popular among adolescents, delivers high levels of nicotine. Limited research has assessed social and environmental influences that contribute to use of JUUL and other pod-style devices. We examined how these factors, as well as individual characteristics, shape adolescent use. Twenty-nine middle and high school students participated in six focus groups in June 2019 (58.6% female, 65.5% White, 27.6% Hispanic). Groups were stratified by e-cigarette use status and grade to understand perceptions and experiences among groups. Transcripts were coded using thematic analysis for individual, social, and environmental factors contributing to use. Users (n = 13) described their first experience with JUUL as mostly negative, mentioning reactions such as burning in the throat, coughing, wheezing, and headaches. Despite a negative first experience, stress relief and addiction were mentioned as reasons for continued use. Users and non-users identified vaping as a source of disruption to their daily life. Social factors included peer and parental influences, lack of support for quitting, and accessibility. Environmental factors included contrasting messages about long- and short-term health effects of e-cigarettes, as well as a lack of school vaping policy enforcement, health education, medical screenings, and cessation resources. Findings highlight the complex social system that influences adolescent e-cigarette use and have important implications for school and community responses. Strategies to prevent or reduce use may include reviewing existing school tobacco policies, providing counseling and cessation resources, training staff, and increasing knowledge through public education campaigns.
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering