There’s yet another e-cigarette out there, and it’s rapidly gaining in popularity among teens — many of whom wrongly believe it’s neither addictive nor a health risk. It’s called Juul, and though it’s marketed as an aid to adults who want to kick their smoking habit, it has found a big fan club among kids.
What’s the big deal with Juul? Well, you might not even notice it — and that’s a big deal in itself. The vaping device is so small, it can easily be tucked away in a hand or a pocket. Plus, it looks like a flash drive, not an e-cig. Uh-oh. Also, the Juul doesn’t generate as much vapor or smoke as e-cigarettes or regular cigarettes — and that too is a bit of bad news, since kids can easily Juul in the middle of class, exhaling into the shirt they’re wearing (yup) or their backpacks.
The worst part? A single Juul pod contains 200 puffs and has as much nicotine as one pack of cigarettes — guaranteeing a seriously addictive head rush. And many teens are missing the point that these devices are just as addictive, if not more so, than smoking Marlboros.
But they taste better than Marlboros for sure, and although the company behind Juul products insists that it isn’t marketing to kids, come on now: Juul flavors include crème brûlée and fruit medley, and other e-cig brands have been marketing flavors like strawberry cotton candy and peanut butter cup. Even a toddler would be intrigued by that lineup.
Juuling is a particular problem because, as with vaping, the Juul devices are new enough that they aren’t yet as tightly regulated as cigarettes. Plus, many school districts have been flummoxed by the device’s tiny size; in fact, some schools are even banning flash drives to help stop lookalike Juuls sneaking onto campus.
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Are there long-term health effects? Doctors think so, but again, vaping products are still new, and hard evidence is scant. Researchers at Harvard have found that the oils used to flavor vaping devices can cause different health problems from smoking — including horrific disorders like popcorn lung. And though vaping and Juuling are marketed as nicotine-replacement habits, their amounts of nicotine and addictive chemicals (and their tasty flavors) may have the opposite effect.
So talk to your kids about all forms of drug use, including smoking, e-cigs and Juuling — and keep a nose out for sweet-to-smoky scents on their clothes. Let them know that this trend has serious ramifications, with potential for addiction as well as health problems. The flavors may be sweet, but the effect Juuling has on the body is anything but.