Since its launch over two years ago, the JUUL has become one of the most popular e-cigarettes on the market. Some have called it the “iPhone of e-cigs” because of its popularity and it has quickly acquired a somewhat cult-like following among underage smokers. While the effects of e-cigarette smoke have not been fully understood due to the relatively short time they have been on the market; smoking the JUUL is in no way safe.
What is the JUUL?
The JUUL is a small battery powered device that resembles a USB drive. As an e-cigarette it works by heating a small container of flavored oil, or “pod,” to create a vaporized smoke. It is so small, in fact, that it can be contained in a closed fist. Students can can easily sneak the JUUL into class, even plugging them into their laptop to charge, making them available to use anytime no one is watching.
In addition to their sleek and concealable design, one JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes (about 200 puffs). This is a much higher concentration of nicotine than other vapes on the market and a product of JUUL’s target market, adult smokers looking for an alternative to cigarettes.
Danger to the youth
Most young people don’t know that JUUL pods contain nicotine because they are packaged as sweet or fruit flavors to make the taste of the chemical solvents like glycerol and nicotine they contain. Recent reporting has shown that vaping or smoking of e-cigarettes among high school students has risen as much as 80% in the last year. A recent JUUL has released many statements of the intention of its product being strictly to provide a way for adult smokers to switch away from cigarettes, but the potency of nicotine delivery and availability of these devices can be harmful to young adults. Recent laws have been proposed that vaping companies eliminate sweet and fruity flavors as options, but those laws might not take effect until 2022 or later.
Early exposure to vaping nicotine causes addiction at an early age. Many teens have described their first experience of using the JUUL as a head rush and high that was almost immediate. Over time this rush gets less, but the dependency grows. Many young smokers have reported feeling like they needed to vape again to feel normal, or to avoid feeling withdrawal symptoms.
For the adult smoker the JUUL was created as an alternative to help stop smoking cigarettes. But for young smokers, it means a higher potential for addiction than other using vapes. Since nicotine acts as a neurotoxin and alter brain chemistry, the brain can’t function normally without it. The brains of children are still developing and some researchers believe that nicotine can act as a gateway drug, priming the brain to feel more rewarded by drugs like cocaine or heroin.
Action and awareness needed
The JUUL is restricted to smokers over 21, but underage smokers have found easy access to these devices through the use of fake IDs, unregistered websites, or having older friends purchase them. While vaping boasts of being a less harmful alternative to cigarettes, the JUUL delivers a much higher dose of nicotine, can be used to smoke illegal drugs, and can be easily concealed behind the varieties of flavors that mask the smell of chemical solvents and other harmful ingredients contained within it.
With the use of vaping or e-cigs rapidly on the rise it is important to be aware of how to prevent underage smokers from ever starting. Be aware of how easy it is for kids to get their hands on e-cigs like the JUUL and how easy it is for them to conceal it from view. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or work or volunteer with young people it is important to know the dangerous path of addiction vaping from a young age can cause.
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