/ by Audrey Darville, PhD, ARPN
Written by Audrey Darville, a nurse practitioner and tobacco treatment specialist at UK HealthCare.
Parents, do you know what a Juul is? It's a compact vaping device no bigger than a USB drive, but it packs as much danger and health risk as other e-cigarettes. And it’s garnered a wide following among teenagers.
Although you have to be 21 to purchase the device on the company’s website, the trendy Juul has become something of an epidemic in high schools across the country. The device’s discreet design allows students to use it during school hours without teachers noticing. And the Juul comes in enticing flavors, such as mango and crème brulee, which makes the device even more popular among teens.
However, there is a growing concern that using a Juul can pose health risks to the user by exposing their lungs to chemicals and ultra-fine particles.
Here are the facts about the new trend and how you can talk to your teen about it.
How does it work?
The Juul is made up of two parts: a slim vaporizer and a disposable pod of nicotine juice. It heats the pod of nicotine juice to make the vapor so that the user can then inhale.
What are the dangers of Juuling?
The Juul is marketed as an alternative for adult smokers but is also targeted toward younger, nicotine-naive users. Each pod contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs, but the nicotine concentration is more than double of some other e-cigarettes. Nicotine is highly addictive, and because teenagers’ brains are still developing and are more vulnerable to addiction, exposure to nicotine at this stage can have long-term impacts on their development.
Some users also use drug-laced solutions, such as THC, in their Juul devices.
Additionally, teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to suffer from symptoms of lung irritation, such as a persistent cough, bronchitis, congestion and phlegm.
Some researchers are also concerned that e-cigarettes serve as a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes, particularly for teens.
Is Juul safer than traditional cigarettes?
Although some teens might believe that using e-cigarettes rather than smoking cigarettes lowers their exposure to toxins and carcinogens, vaping liquids contain other additives that can form carcinogenic compounds when heated.
However, e-cigarettes are still too new for scientists and doctors to fully understand the long-term health effects.
How should you talk with your teen about using a Juul?
It’s important to open up a dialogue with your teen about e-cigarettes, even if they’re not using them. You can start with a broad question such as, “I just read about this thing called a Juul. What do you know about it?” Engage in a discussion on the risk of getting hooked on nicotine, a powerfully addictive substance that will cost them for years to come.