Online popularity of JUUL and Puff Bars in the USA: 2019–2020


Background The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a flavour ban on cartridge-based e-cigarettes in January 2020. It is unclear whether e-cigarette users will switch to disposable vaping products with a variety of kids-appealing flavours available.

Methods We performed piece-wise regression and autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) algorithms to compare the relative search volume (RSV) of JUUL and Puff Bar (a disposable vaping product) using the 1-year Google Trends data from 24 February 2019 to 20 February 2020, separated by three events that may have spurred changes in RSV for each product.

Results The RSV for JUUL was relatively stable before Trump Administration announced plans to ban flavoured e-cigarettes. After that, the RSV for JUUL dropped sharply (rate of change=8.8 per week) from 11 September 2019 to 17 October 2019 when JUUL Labs announced to halt online sales of some flavoured products, and the RSV resumed the decreasing trend after FDA announced enforcement policy of cartridge-based e-cigarettes on 2 January 2020. In comparison, the RSV for Puff Bar started to increase after 11 September 2019 with a low rate of change (0.6) until 17 October 2019. After that, the increase in RSV for Puff Bar accelerated. The RSV of puff bars surpassed that of JUUL during the week of 2 February 2020.

Conclusion The popularity of Puff Bar on Google Search suggests that users may replace cartridge-based vaping products with disposable e-cigarettes in the circumvention of the partial flavour ban. Continuous surveillance and further assessment are needed to prevent potential loopholes in tobacco regulation.

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October 13, 2020

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