This new vaping trend is catching on with kids, and your teen might not even know it’s addictive
It’s hard to keep up with every teen trend out there: the new bands with weird names, the hoards of teen actors, the hip new slang (do people still say hip?). Sometimes it can feel like connecting with your teen takes a huge effort, and possibly also a translator. And then there are the new drugs and new drug slang–and those are pretty damn important to know about too.
Here’s this week’s big lesson: Juul, a new type of e-cigarette that’s quickly gaining popularity in high schools and college campuses across the country, even though the product is ostensibly only marketed to adults who are trying to kick traditional cigarettes.
Why is Juul so popular (and also so worrisome)? Well, it’s basically the perfect storm of vaping trends. First and foremost, it’s small–it can easily be concealed in the palm of a teen’s hand. Secondly, it looks a lot more like a flash drive than it does a cigarette or an e-cig device. Third, it doesn’t produce as much vapor as an e-cig, which means kids can easily use it in a bathroom, or even in the middle of class, blowing it into their backpack or shirt.
It’s also popular because it contains boatloads of nicotine, one of the most addictive drugs on the planet. One Juul “pod” contains about 200 puffs and as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, giving kids an addicting rush each time they use it. And, unlike cigarettes, many kids don’t know that “Juuling” contains nicotine and other chemicals–or that they could easily get hooked.
Even though the company that makes Juul products say they don’t sell or market to kids, it’s hard to ignore some of the popular flavors, which include bubble pop, strawberry cotton candy, fruit medley, peanut butter cup, and crème brûlée.
Juuling comes with many of the same issues as e-cigs: they aren’t regulated as tightly as cigarettes, and municipalities and schools alike are scrambling to come up with new policies (some schools are even banning flash drives to help stop the problem). Teachers and parents might also not even know to look out for the issue–while kids haven’t been educated on their dangers like they have cigarettes or chew.
At the same time, we don’t really know the long-term health affects of Juuling. While there’s some evidence that vaping is a safer alternative than smoking tobacco, there are new studies finding that the common chemicals that flavor vaping oils could cause totally different health problems, like popcorn lung. Also, new studies are finding that nicotine replacement devices like e-cigs might not help anyone kick the habit. In fact, kids might start using Juul and then upgrade to cigarettes after they become addicted.
What can you do about Juuling? Awareness is possibly the most important puzzle piece, both for you and your kids. Also, asking about school policy and keeping an eye out for the devices or their smell (which can range from sweet to traditionally smokey) are good ways to stay on top of this troubling trend. Finally, just talking with your kid about Juuling, e-cigs, and nicotine can stop them from being pulled into the habit out of ignorance.