Youth Tobacco Use and Juuling

Statistics on Youth Tobacco Use from the American Lung Association and the CDC:

  • Every day, almost 2,500 children under 18 years of age try their first cigarette, and more than 400 of them will become new, regular daily smokers.  Half of them will ultimately die from their habit.
  • People who start smoking at an early age are more likely to develop a severe addiction to nicotine than those who start at a later age. Of adolescents who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, most of them report that they would like to quit, but are not able to do so.
  • If current tobacco use patterns persist, an estimated 5.6 million of today’s youth under age 18 eventually will die prematurely from a smoking-related disease.
  • Current e-cigarette use (use on at least 1 day in the past 30 days) among high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, rising from approximately 660,000 to 2 million students.
  • Among middle school students, current e-cigarette use more than tripled from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014—an increase from approximately 120,000 to 450,000 students.

Something I wanted to address with today’s blog is juuling, as it is a newer topic that parents may not know that much about. Chances are, you are starting to see it come up in the headlines. But what is juuling? Juules are a type of vaporizer with a design that makes it hard to recognize them as an e-cigarette. They can be plugged into a USB outlet to be charged, and they literally look like an ordinary USB thumb drive. They also come in a lot flavors like “cool mint” and “fruit medley,” just as vape juice does, which makes them appealing to teens. The Juul is comprised of two parts. One holds the liquid, the other holds the battery and temperature regulation system. It is actually the best-selling e-cigarette on the market today.

What makes Juuls different from other vaping devices is that it is a pretty straightforward system. There are no modifications that can be done. Often, you will see people modifying their vapes to blow more smoke and changing various other settings. The Juul does not have any settings either. You just turn it on and it is ready to go.

Juules are sold in convenience stores and online. Teens are able to purchase them easily online by lying about their age, as you have to verify you are over the age of 18 or 21, depending on the state.

One of the myths surround Juuls and other e-cigarettes and vapes is that they are less dangerous than a traditional cigarette. But that is simply wrong. A 2018 study showed that teens who smoked e-cigarettes had higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals in their body as opposed to non-smokers. The ingredients in a Juul pod include glycerol and propylene glycol, nicotine, benzoic acid, and flavorants. And actually, one Juul pod contains 0.7mL of nicotine, the same amount of nicotine as a regular pack of cigarettes, or 200 puffs. Nicotine is highly addictive; one of the most highly addictive drugs on the planet. Which in turn, means that Juules can become addicting too. Juuling can be just as dangerous as smoking one pack of cigarettes a day. There are no long-term studies on health effects, as these products are still fairly new to the market; but there is proof that nicotine does affect brain development.

With Juules being so hard to identify, it makes it easier for teens to juule in school. Especially because they do not produce as much smoke as other similar products. That makes it possible to juule right in the middle of the classroom or in the bathroom without ever being noticed.

Just like preventing any other type of drug use, parents should stay on top of any trends they hear of and communicate the dangers of them with their teen.