There is a new trend parents and school administrators need to be aware of, and it goes by the name of JUUL. It’s what some people are referring to as the iPhone of vaping. It is a device so discreet that teens are getting away with using it in school bathrooms, hallways, and even in the classroom.
JUUL is a brand of e-cigarette that looks like a flash drive and charges by USB. The product can be ordered online by anyone claiming to be 21 or older. It is inexpensive, easy to use, and features nicotine pods that come in a variety of kid-friendly flavors like crème brûlée, mango, and fruit medley. Just one of these pods is equivalent to an entire pack of traditional cigarettes.
“Hitting the JUUL” is said to give users a nicotine head rush, and many students are brazen enough to do it in the middle of the classroom. They take a puff, then either swallow the vapor – known as ‘ghosting’ – or exhale it into their hoodie when the teacher isn’t looking. The subtle smell (if any) can be easily mistaken for someone’s light perfume.
How do we know teens are actually using these devices in school? Social media of course! Many students proudly record and share videos of them or their friends using a JUUL for their peers and beyond to see and others post to forums about how easy it is to acquire a JUUL device.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 2017 Monitoring the Future survey, nearly 1 in 3 students in 12th grade reported past year use of some kind of vaping device. This upward trend includes younger teens as well, which raises concerns about the impact on their health.
Young people apparently consider JUULing a class above other types of vaping, and many believe it to be safer as well. Health experts say that while electronic cigarettes in general may be less dangerous than traditional tobacco cigarettes, they are certainly not safe.
Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, says e-cigarette vapors are toxic and can trigger inflammation linked to asthma, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
Nicotine in and of itself is dangerous. Inhaled nicotine increases heart rate and blood pressure, is highly addictive, and may lead to changes in the developing adolescent brain, and may increase the risk of addiction to other drugs.
The official JUUL website says that the product was created to help current cigarette smokers stop smoking, and that it is solely intended for adult use; statistics however are looking to prove otherwise. Instead of reducing smoking, JUUL and e-cigarettes are creating a new generation of cigarette smokers.
Participants of the nationally representative Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study who reported using an e-cigarette or other non-cigarette tobacco product were twice as likely to have smoked cigarettes just one year later; and those who had used more than one type of product were nearly four times as likely.
Parents and school administrators need to not only be aware of this new and dangerous trend, but to open up conversations at home and in the classroom regarding the health risks of vaping, whether it be JUUL or any other type of electronic device. In addition to being an obvious violation of school policy, the discussion is vital to young people’s safety and wellbeing.
SOURCES: Boston Globe. Beth Teitell Globe Staff, “Juuling”: The most widespread phenomenon you’ve never heard of. November 16, 2017. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study: Study shows association between non-cigarette tobacco product use and future cigarette smoking among teens. January 2, 2018. National Institutes of Health (NIH) 2017 Monitoring the Future survey: Vaping popular among teens; opioid misuse at historic lows. December 14, 2017. USA Today Network. Josh Hafner, Juul e-cigs: The controversial vaping device popular on school campuses. Oct. 31, 2017. JUULVapor.com.