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3 ways JUUL harms the environment

The youth e-cigarette use epidemic, driven in large part by the top-selling e-cigarette JUUL, is obviously a public health crisis. It may also become an environmental one.

As sales of the device skyrocket alongside surging youth e-cigarette use — data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey show current e-cigarette use among high schoolers reached more than 20% in 2018, a 78% increase in one year — the risks e-cigarettes, like JUUL, pose to the environment will only grow. Here are three ways JUUL harms the environment.

1. JUUL uses single-use plastic pods.

Can you recycle JUUL pods?

Products like plastic straws receive significant attention for the environmental damage they cause as single-use products, which create significantly more waste than reusable products and can take many years to break down.

JUUL cartridges, or pods, are also single-use plastic products. Each pod contains 200 puffs — 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine, or roughly the amount of nicotine in a pack of cigarettes — and are not intended to be reused, according to the product website. On top of that, the company has not made a recycling program for its products and advises on its website that pods “can be thrown away in a regular trash can.”

How to dispose of JUUL website FAQ screenshot

2. JUUL pods often end up as litter.

JUUL pods and the environment

Many of those pods don’t even make it in the trash can, as anyone who has spotted one on the sidewalk knows.

Single-use pods may end up as litter, compounding the issue of tobacco product litter. Since the 1980s, cigarette butts have consistently comprised 30-40% of all items collected in annual international coastal and urban cleanups.

3. E-cigarettes contain heavy metals.

Do JUUl pods contain heavy metals

E-cigarettes, like JUUL, can leak heavy metals and residual nicotine into the environment. Because of heavy metals and residual nicotine, e-cigarettes may qualify as both e-waste and biohazard waste.

Do you or someone you know use JUUL or another e-cigarette and want to quit? Learn about our first-of-its-kind quit vaping program.