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Tobacco experts doubt Juul age-locking devices will deter underage use

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MADISON (WKOW) -- As Juul prepares to release a new vaping device claiming it will prevent underage users from using it, some experts are not convinced it would make a difference.

The vaping company Juul is reportedly announcing an age-lock on their products to ease concerns from the federal government to keep selling in the United States.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the lockable e-cigarettes are currently in the UK and Canada which users can lock or unlock their devices on a mobile app.

Megan Piper is the associate director of research at UW Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention and associate professor in the University of Wisconsin Department of Medicine. She said since the CDC declared vaping an epidemic among youth, Juul is trying new marketing strategies to combat teen use, but Piper thinks there could be more effective strategies.

“I think the [locking devices] are a great idea in theory, but what might be more effective is to actually reduce demand for the product,” said Piper.

Juul has already banned flavor pods but Piper said the devices are not as popular as they once were and believe other flavor products need to be held to a higher standard.

“They're going to the places where they can still get the flavors and they can still get the nicotine and they don't have to worry about the restriction Juul product has,” she said.

Piper said one reason why Juul is not as popular among teens is because of their flavor ban and see more teens turning to e-cigarette brands like Mojo and PuffBar, which have dozens of flavors advertised on their websites and are cheaper than Juul products.

Juul's new locking device is still just an idea and tobacco researchers said while the idea is aimed to prevent underage use they believe other flavor vaping companies need to be held accountable.

"This represents a serious health problem that we have in this country and the fact that when kids use nicotine products, they're changing their brains and we don't know if their brains will go back to the way they were.”