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UCSF Study: Juul Delivers More Nicotine To Blood Than Cigarettes, Other E-Cigs

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – As Bay Area-based Juul Labs faces increased scrutiny, a new study finds the company's products delivers significantly more nicotine to the blood per puff than other e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes.

A new study by researchers at UC San Francisco, published in the January issue of the journal Tobacco Regulatory Science, tested nicotine concentrations among rodents when they were exposed to Juul and other tobacco products. The researchers found the rodents exposed to Juul had blood nicotine concentrations 8 times higher than a competing e-cigarette. Compared to traditional cigarettes, the rodents had nicotine concentrations that were five times higher.

The researchers noted that it measured the impact of equal numbers of puffs, saying adults transitioning to vaping from cigarettes may stop when they reach the level of nicotine they normally consume.

"However, adolescent non-smokers who are not familiar with the effects of nicotine may be more likely to chase higher levels of the drug's effects," UCSF cardiology professor Matthew Springer, the study's senior author, said in a statement.

Springer noted reports of teenagers binging on Juul products "to the point of rapid addiction and behavioral consequences."

Researchers said Juul introduced acidified nicotine salts which allow the delivery of nicotine at higher concentrations than previous e-cigarettes.

Juul released a statement in response to the new study late Monday afternoon. It read:

"The JUUL device and e-liquid were designed to convert adult smokers from cigarettes. With this goal in mind, the JUUL team sought to create a nicotine-based e-liquid that mimicked the nicotine experience associated with cigarette use. Providing a similar nicotine experience was a priority given the fact that early generation e-cigarettes had failed in this respect and, as a result, did not convert a significant number of adult smokers from cigarettes."

"As noted, through testing the JUUL Labs team found that a vaporized salt-based formulation resembled the nicotine absorption in blood during initial uptake of a combustible cigarette, but at lower concentrations," the statement continued. "In terms of actual nicotine absorption, our clinical studies have consistently shown that JUUL use at 5 percent strengths results in an average nicotine uptake that is similar to, but lower in concentration than a commercial reference combustible cigarette.  Our significant switch rates among adult smokers to JUUL products demonstrate the importance of these design and product choices."

Juul came under increased attention from regulators in 2019, as the number of teenagers vaping has risen significantly. The company headquartered in San Francisco is also facing numerous lawsuits and has been warned by federal agencies over its marketing practices and safety claims.

Last month, another study from UCSF researchers found vaping significantly increases the risk of developing chronic lung diseases, and those who both vape and smoke were at higher risk than those who only smoke or only vape.

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