The good news: Cigarette smoking among teenagers has decreased over the past few years. The bad news: Over the same amount of time, the use of electronic cigarettes by teenagers has increased dramatically. One of the more popular e-cigarettes that teenagers are using is one called Juul. In fact, it is so popular that the brand name has also become a verb – “juuling.”
Different from other forms of e-cigarettes, Juul looks like a seemingly inoffensive device with its small, sleek body that resembles a flash drive for a computer. The smoke or vapor that is produced by some of these devices can be far less than other typical e-cigarettes, allowing teens to look for numerous ways to use the device without being detected. These are just some of the reasons that entice teens to begin vaping or “juuling.”
Vaping among teenagers has grown to epidemic proportions. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC,) the sales of Juul have risen dramatically from 2016 to 2017. Unfortunately, many of these popular vaping devices are falling into the hands of teenagers. In Kentucky, KRS 438.311 requires that e-cigarettes users be at least 18 years old to purchase or accept the use of the devices. KRS 438.350 allows the devices to be confiscated by law enforcement if found on someone under the age of 18.
Young people look at Juul and other vaping devices as relatively harmless, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are significant dangers in vaping, dangers that can pose real and long-lasting health hazards. Teen users of these vaping devices do not think of these hazards when they are vaping.
The Juul device is made up of an e-pod or cartridge, which is filled with an e-liquid or “juice” that come in flavors that are enticing to young people, and a battery pack that heats the e-pod. The Juul device itself has often been mistaken for a computer flash drive. Teens often hide these devices in their sleeves, their pockets, or their backpacks and even try to use these devices while in school. In some schools, teens have been known to gather in bathroom stalls for “Juul parties,” vaping and sometimes sharing the juul devices with each other.
While the e-cigarettes are touted as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes and the flavor names sound harmless – cotton candy, mango, peppermint – the nicotine salts that are added to these flavored oils can be addictive and hazardous to the health of the user. Each e-pod gives off approximately 200 puffs, but often teenagers will go through several e-pods per day, giving them a nicotine buzz. Besides the flavors, the oils contain enough nicotine salts to equal one full pack of traditional cigarettes. Nicotine is known to elevate the heart rate and raise blood pressure. Teens can easily become addicted to juuling.
Aside from the nicotine in the flavored e-pods, other chemicals are added to these devices. Newsweek Magazine recently reported that teens who vape regularly are exposed to extremely high levels of dangerous and poisonous chemicals that include acrylonitrile, acrolein, propylene oxide, acrylamide and crotonaldehyde. One of these chemicals, acrylonitrile, is used in the production of plastics, adhesives and synthetic rubber. In addition to these chemicals, formaldehyde and harmful trace metals, such as nickel, chromium, cadmium, tin, aluminum and lead – all potential cancer-causing agents – have also been found in many of the vaping devices.
It is important for parents to talk to their teens about vaping and its dangers. Below are some ways parents can speak to their teens about the dangers of vaping or “juuling.”
- Ask them what they know about “juuling” and the effects that it can have on their bodies. Peer pressure or being one of the group often plays a role in a teenager picking up and using a vaping device.
- Explain how dangerous nicotine can be and how easy it is to inhale too much nicotine from one of these nicotine-filled pods.
- Sit down with your teens to research e-cigarettes. If your teen is using e-cigarettes, help him/her find ways to stop vaping. If necessary, get the advice of your family doctor on ways to stop vaping.
For more information about vaping, Juul and their dangers, check out these videos: