A trendy new type of e-cigarette called “JUUL” is becoming increasingly popular, especially among children and adolescents.
“JUULing” is another term for “vaping,” which is the use of electronic cigarettes, commonly referred to as “e-cigs” or “vape pens.”
Specifically, JUUL is a brand of e-cigarette that is shaped like a USB flash drive. This battery-powered device heats a flavored nicotine-containing liquid to produce an aerosol that is inhaled.
JUUL makes up 68 percent of the 2 billion dollar e-cigarette market and is known for its sleek and discreet design, easy to charge battery and liquid-filled cartridges that are available in popular fruit flavors.
It is also known to produce harmful health effects and is encouraging cigarette smoking, which is highly addictive. JUUL has twice the amount of nicotine compared to other similar devices making this particular substance even more addictive and dangerous.
- Approximately two-thirds of JUUL users aged 15 – 24 do not know that JUUL always contains nicotine.
- According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.
- Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
- Approximately 20 percent of middle and high school students have seen JUUL used in school.
- Although individuals under the age of 21 cannot purchase JUUL, there is a vast black market where teenagers are buying JUUL illegally.
Is JUUL Addictive?
Nicotine is extremely addictive because it releases feel-good chemicals such as dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine is known to cause feelings of temporary euphoria, even in individuals who are severely depressed.
However, once the dopamine is depleted, the body can go into a state of dopamine withdrawal resulting not only in the urge to use again but can also cause the individual to become irritable and develop massive mood swings.
The constant need for nicotine and the resulting “feel good euphoric sensation” produces a cycle of addiction that is often very difficult to break.
Teenagers and adolescents can use this discreet device in a wide variety of settings such as the classroom, football field, or on the bus without getting caught.
Teachers and parents are finding many teenagers using this device behind their backs. Students can take a quick hit and blow out the odorless smoke in their jacket or backpack without having anyone know, but at what expense?
How Does JUUL Affect The Developing Brain?
An individual’s brain is not fully developed until the early to mid-twenties. Brain imaging studies of adolescents who began smoking at an early age had reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex, an area that is responsible for decision-making, cognitive behavior, and impulse control.
When this area is reduced, individuals may show high rates of impulsive behavior, have a higher likelihood of engaging in addictive behaviors, and are less likely to be able to make high functioning informed decisions.
How Does JUUL Affect The Cardiovascular System?
Since nicotine is the main ingredient in JUUL, the heart and blood vessels are at risk. Nicotine contributes to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which requires the heart to work harder to deliver oxygen to the lungs and rest of the body.
This extra work can increase the risk of stroke or heart attack. Additionally, the other chemicals in JUUL can contribute to a plaque build up in the blood vessels, which can contribute to a blockage, depriving organs, and tissues of oxygen. Over time this blockage can contribute to the already present risk of a stroke or heart attack.
How Does JUUL Affect The Lungs?
As of November 2019, 42 deaths and more than 2,000 cases of severe lung illness related to e-cigarettes have been reported in the media.
JUUL and other electronic cigarette devices have other harmful chemicals besides nicotine that are known to contribute to lung infections, asthma, chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder (COPD), and lung cancer.
Individuals who use JUUL are more likely to be hospitalized for asthma exacerbations and pneumonia compared to the rest of the population.
Benzoic Acid in JUUL
JUUL contains a much more substantial amount of benzoic acid compared to other electronic cigarette brands.
Benzoic acid is known to cause abdominal pain, coughs, and nausea, vomiting, and sore through if the exposure is constant, which is the case when using JUUL.
The use of JUUL among teenagers and adolescents is becoming a widespread problem that can potentially lead to serious health side effects, addiction, and illegal behavior.
The Food and Drug Administration has taken some recent actions regarding JUUL, but much more needs to be done. The majority of underage users are purchasing JUUL from retail outlets, even though this is illegal.
As a result, the FDA has issued warning letters to retailers who are selling JUUL to minors. The FDA has also requested that JUUL turn over documents relating to health effects and use among youth.
Unfortunately, the FDA does not have a robust pre-market review for electronic cigarettes. Until they do, it seems the manufacturers are still going to have the upper hand in the making and distribution of these harmful products.
As a result, teachers, parents, and other adult role models need to step up to the plate and help educate youth about the potential dangers of these products.
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