JUULing: Disturbing new vaping trend among youth

March 01, 2018 | by Aaron Weiner, Ph.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Minds

A new brand of electronic cigarettes has caught on among young people. Now it’s all about “JUULing”— a discreet new form of vaping. In 2015, it was reported that 1 in 6 high school students used an e-cigarette in the past month.

JUULing seems to appeal to teens for several reasons. It can be done indoors without attracting attention. Its sleek design resembles a flash drive, making it easy to conceal, even in a closed fist.

The e-cigs also have a range of flavors available, creating an odor which can be mistaken for perfume. The flavors have fun names too, like crème brulle.

The devices are so benign-looking that students are bragging on social media about JUULing in school bathrooms, hallways, and even in class behind their teachers’ backs.

E-cigarettes use stored electricity to heat a liquid into vapors, which are then inhaled. Teens like the head rush it gives them. Some even do tricks with it, such as “ghosting” (i.e., re-inhaling the vapor), because they think it looks cool.

But while the device may look benign, the health effects of JUULing are anything but. While e-cigarettes appear to pose less risks than conventional cigarettes, new research suggests that e-cigs are not without biological health effects.

The JUUL device packs a powerful punch of nicotine. The nicotine in just one juice-flavored pod is roughly equivalent to an entire pack of cigarettes.

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug with many negative health effects, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, diabetes and lung disease. Young people are uniquely vulnerable to nicotine’s long-term effects. It’s damaging to brain development and may increase the risk of addiction to other drugs.  

Many teens don’t realize that e-cigs contain so much nicotine and see vaping as a healthier choice than cigarettes. But studies show young people who vape are more likely to use conventional cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Not only are e-cigarettes a likely path to nicotine addiction for youth, research suggests nicotine is the latest gateway for harder drug use. Some of these vaping devices can contain THC, the active substance in marijuana. In addition to nicotine, most e-cigarettes contain and emit numerous potentially toxic substances.

Although the FDA is starting to implement prevention policies for youth vaping, it has been slow to act on e-cigarettes, partly because of the potential for e-cigs to help get adult smokers off tobacco. Although JUUL products are intended for those age 21 and older, some experts see e-cig makers as directly and deliberately targeting kids in their marketing.

If you are concerned your teen is vaping, don’t let it go. Talk to them. Get involved. Parental involvement is critical for preventing drug and alcohol abuse.

Even with the proper guidance from parents, any kid can end up in trouble. The professional counselors at Linden Oaks Behaviorial Health can provide the right kind of help for your teen.

Find support at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

Related blogs:

The hidden dangers of e-cigarettes

6 tips for talking to your teen about drugs and alcohol

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