If you’re the parent of a middle or high school student, you’ve probably already heard some rumblings about the popular e-cigarette known as JUUL. (If you haven’t, you need to do a better job of staying engaged with what’s happening in the lives of young teenagers.) But are these devices and the substances they contain as dangerous as members of the media are making them out to be? It’s a question worth exploring in further detail.
What is JUUL?
For starters, let’s gain a clear understanding of exactly what JUUL is, how it’s used, and why it’s become so popular in such a short period of time.
“The JUUL is a portable ‘nicotine-delivery device’ designed to mimic the physical and sensory experience of a cigarette, without looking like one,” explains Dr. Peter Zeblisky of Martin Health Physician Group. “The JUUL has two components: the bottom part is the device, which includes the battery and temperature regulation system, and the top part is the e-liquid cartridge that you stick into the device. The cartridge is also the mouthpiece, so you just click it into the JUUL and you’re ready to go.”
The JUUL can be recharged and comes with a simple USB charger that plugs into a laptop or charging block. Liquid cartridges – commonly referred to as “carts” or PODS – are sold separately. They contain a mixture of glycerol, nicotine, propylene glycol, benzoic acid, and flavorants. The nicotine content is extremely high when compared to traditional cigarettes. One pod contains roughly0.7mL, which is the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes.
What Parents Need to Know
Whether you want to face reality or not, you need to know that your children are exposed to JUUL on a daily basis. They’ve probably used it or know somebody that does. If you aren’t having conversations with them about the use of JUUL, someone else is influencing them. Here are a few things you need to know:
- JUUL Marketing is Enticing
According to The Sawaya Law Firm, “Companies have aggressively marketed these products to young people through print, broadcast and digital mediums. They typically portray their products as being a safe alternative to cigarettes and make it seem cool and hip to vape. They have also provided consumers with a variety of flavors such as mango, cool mint, grape or bubblegum. Even the design of a JUUL device – it looks like a USB flash drive – seemingly is aimed at appealing to young people.”
In other words, JUUL and other e-cigarette brands strategically aim their marketing initiatives at teenagers. This is clear in the products they sell, as well as the way they design their branding. While current lawsuits are being brought against these companies, this does nothing to stop the exposure children have already had. This isn’t meant to scare you, but it should serve as a wakeup call.
- Your Child Can Easily Access JUUL
The price point for a JUUL device is just $35 to $50, with carts costing just $4 a pop. Buying a device and some pods doesn’t require a ton of effort or ingenuity.
A lot of parents assume their kids are safe from JUUL because they’re under the age of 18 (which is the legal age to purchase tobacco or e-cigarette products), but this is a mistake. Just like an age restriction didn’t prevent you from drinking beer in high school, no law truly prevents your child from purchasing e-cigarettes.
Dr. Zeblisky points to a recent FDA-CDC report that found e-cigarette use among high school students rose from 1.5 to 16 percent from 2011 to 2015. The rate is 5.3 percent among middle school students. In 2016, more than 2 million high school and middle school students reported using an e-cigarette.
- It’s Easy to Hide JUUL
Don’t assume that you’ll be able to spot the signs of JUUL use in your kids. The devices are small and easy to hide. They also don’t produce a strong odor, which makes it easier to use without being caught.
Talk to Your Kids Today
It’s time to talk to your kids about JUUL to see what they know. Don’t be surprised if your teenager has already used an e-cigarette or if they are currently using one. Try to approach the conversation with a level head and seek to understand where they’re coming from. This is an issue you want to deal with as soon as possible.