If you are a parent who has a child in middle or high school, you might be familiar with a JUUL. If you are not, this is the time to familiarize yourself with the tobacco product that has taken over schools all around the United States. A JUUL is an electronic cigarette that has a sleek design resembling a USB device.
Recent data on youth tobacco use has uncovered a surge in tobacco-use among teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), there has been a ten-fold increase in youth e-cigarette use between 2011 and 2015. Data highlights from the 2017 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey (MNYTS) show that 19.2% of high school students used or tried e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, up 49% from 2014. There is a possibility these numbers are underestimating the severity of use in schools.
The JUUL is so popular among youth that they give it its own distinctive term, JUULing. Although 99% of e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the JUUL brand contains almost double the concentration of nicotine found in other e-cigarette brands. A single JUUL pod, the disposable compartment that holds the liquid e-juice, is equivalent to 1-2 packs of cigarettes depending on the cigarette brand. A pack of cigarettes may have around 20-25 mg while JUUL has 59mg/ml or around 45 mg per pod.
Targeting your kids
The brand’s design often allows youth to use it in plain sight. The JUUL charges in a USB port and, unlike conventional cigarettes, the vapor does not produce a strong odor. In fact, many youth are attracted to the JUUL because of the many flavor options provided by the brand: Mango, Cool Cucumber, and Crème Brûlée are some of the popular flavors.
Flavors in tobacco products have been found to attract kids. According to the CDC, a third of the middle and high school students who used e-cigarettes in 2016 said the abundance of flavors is the main reason for using these products. There is also a misconception among teens that the flavored e-cigarettes contain little to no nicotine and that they are only vaping the flavor.
Due to these misconceptions, youth that use JUUL don’t consider themselves smokers and might not even consider themselves vapers. This, combined with the easy-to-use design, makes youth prone to use JUUL much more frequently than other tobacco products, which significantly increases their risk of nicotine addiction.
Early e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction is known to harm brain development, which may affect the health and mental health of youth. Additionally, kids that start smoking e-cigarettes are more prone to use cigarettes and other tobacco products in the future.
What you can do as a parent:
The JUUL brand uses promotion tactics to glamorize its use and its design only enforces the appeal to youth. As a parent, set a good example for your kids by not smoking or using tobacco in any form. Have a conversation with your child about e-cigarette use and its many harms. If you know that your child is using JUUL or any other kind of tobacco products, educate them on the harms of tobacco, the unpleasant physical effects (discolored teeth and nails, bad breath) and the prospect of becoming a lifelong tobacco user. You can find more tips on how to talk to your kids about tobacco here: https://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/smoking-facts/tips-for-talking-to-kids.html
A Somali version of this article was first published at Tusmo Times: http://www.tusmotimes.com/juul-wuxuu-la-wareegayaa-nolosha-carruurteena/