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JUUL: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing


They look harmless enough—like a flash drive that might contain music or photos. But a JUUL (pronounced like "jewel") contains something more worrisome—highly addictive nicotine— and as the most popular brand of e-cigarette on the market, they have the potential to hook young people on nicotine, and could lead them to turn to traditional cigarettes. Let’s take a look at why this JUUL is no gem.

A JUUL is a brand of electronic cigarette—or "e-cigarette." E-cigarettes have been around for about a decade, and are electronic devices that vaporize a liquid mixture for the user to inhale (often called "vaping"). Most, but not all, e-cigarettes contain nicotine and a mixture of flavorings and other compounds, some of which are harmful and can even cause cancer. E-cigarettes have been marketed as a way to quit smoking, but none have been proven to be safe or effective and most e-cigarette users continue to smoke traditional cigarettes.

While e-cigarettes have not been proven to be effective at helping smokers quit, there is mounting evidence they are an effective gateway to smoking for young people. E-cigarettes are now the most popular tobacco products among young people, even kids as young as middle school students. These products are often made with fruit, candy and other flavors that appeal to kids. Kids may come for the cotton candy or bubblegum flavor, but they stay and get hooked because of the nicotine, which can even be much higher than the nicotine contained in tobacco cigarettes. In 2016, the first-ever U.S. Surgeon General's report on e-cigarette use among youth shattered the myth that e-cigarettes are harmless and flat-out stated that, "All Americans need to know that e-cigarettes are dangerous to youth and young adults."

So, what makes JUULs different? While most e-cigarettes mimic regular cigarettes in shape and size—some even with an LED at the end that lights up red when you puff—JUULs look like a flash drive. They're small, sleek and easy to conceal from parents and teachers. A JUUL appears to the eye to have almost no connection to cigarette smoking. In fact, kids sometimes call it "JUULing," and may think it’s unrelated to smoking or even vaping. But this "wolf in sheep's clothing" delivers all the nicotine and harmful chemicals as bigger, more conspicuous e-cigarettes, all in an assortment of kid-friendly candy colors and flavors.  For young people, even those who would never try a cigarette, JUULing might be seen as a fun, harmless and trendy pastime.

"I'd say that JUULing has really taken off due to the fact that it appears to be light and fun," said Sean Christensen, a high school student from Towson, Maryland. "The flavors like creme brulee, mint and mango all contribute to the idea that JUULs are just toys that don't have devastating effects on your body. Our generation has been educated on the danger of cigarettes, not on the dangers of JUULs. The fun flavors and lack of education means kids don’t associate JUULing with the dangers of smoking."

"The prevalence of JUULs has also been intensified due to marketing of JUULs to high schoolers. JUULs look like flash drives because kids must hide them. No adult needs to have a vape that looks like a flash drive; they don’t need to hide that," Christensen added. "As of right now, 18-year-old seniors will legally buy JUULs and then take them to high school to sell to underclassmen. This creates a vicious cycle as the underclassmen get addicted, turn 18, and then become supplier that causes the cycle."

Dr. S. Christy Sadreameli, a pediatric pulmonologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and an American Lung Association national volunteer spokesperson, believes JUULs are a growing risk for young people, and parents need to talk to their kids about JUULs and all e-cigarettes.

"JUUL use is on the rise among youth, yet many parents (and medical professionals) are not familiar with it," Sadreameli explained. "JUULs come in several flavors, including fruit flavors. There is a decades-long history of the tobacco industry using flavors to attract youth to their products. JUUL contains a high concentration of nicotine, so it is highly addictive, and this is particularly concerning for teens, whose developing brains are uniquely susceptible to nicotine addiction. This means that teens who JUUL may become lifelong nicotine users."

"JUUL is not benign and its growing popularity is very concerning to health professionals like myself," Sadreameli said. "This growing popularity means we need to be more aware of it. This goes for parents too. I have started asking my teenaged patients if they use JUUL and advising them to avoid this device."

The American Lung Association has information to help parents talk to their kids about e-cigarettes and tobacco use. Once again, the tobacco industry has targeted youth as their newest customers. If you're a parent, make sure your kids know that they're being manipulated by the tobacco industry. JUUL comes in flavors teens love, it's so easy to hide and it doesn't seem anything like "really" smoking—it's a perfect way to introduce young people to what the tobacco industry hopes will be a lifetime of addiction.

Related Topic: Tobacco & Smoking

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Submitted by Dan at: September 2, 2019
I have tried many vape products but none had the real hit or taste as smoking. Those other companies that sell fruit pebble clouds are the ones the kids play with. These taste mostly like cigarette flavors. They have mango and creme as the only non smoke flavors. My blu vape is not under radar and they have 400 percent more fruity flavors why? My blu is sold by big tobacco, ju is privately owned. Kinda funny how the only non big tobacco brand is the one under the spotlight. Big tobacco would do anything to put juul out of business. Funny how they are behind safety now
Submitted by Anonymous at: August 9, 2019
I was a dedicated smoker of cigarettes. I smoked two packs a day for 32 years. I didn't want to quit smoking and I wasn't going to quit smoking even though I knew the risks. However, one day as I was driving home, I passed a vape shop and decided to check it out. I bought a e-Cig and from that day forward I've never touched a cigarette again. Countless others like me have used the e-Cig to quit smoking but no one will do a study or poll on that because they don't want you to know that statistic. I KNOW that smoking cigarettes leads to many deadly lung diseases, including cancer; however, there is no proof as of yet that e-Cigs are any more detrimental to your health than countless other things people do. As for formaldehyde: "The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is finally weighing in on the formaldehyde conspiracy theory that has plagued the vaping industry for well over three years. According to the nation’s top public health agency, e-cig vapors contains no more formaldehyde than the normal, everyday air found in the average American home. In fact, many residences probably have much higher levels because formaldehyde can become trapped inside carpets, upholstery, curtains, and other textiles quite easily. " Also, the quote in this article that reads, "JUUL contains a high concentration of nicotine, so it is highly addictive, and this is particularly concerning for teens, whose developing brains are uniquely susceptible to nicotine addiction. This means that teens who JUUL may become lifelong nicotine users." is completely misleading. Juul, along with all other e-Cigs and liquid, only contains nicotine if you specifically buy it pre-mixed with nicotine. Many teens are vaping because they like the flavors, (minus the nicotine) thinks it's cool, and wants to blow huge, annoying clouds. In my opinion, the novelty will wear off soon and vaping among teenagers will decrease. For years cigarette companies, commercials, magazines, etc., made smoking cigarettes look sexy, even for pregnant women. Why don't we hold off on judgment of e-Cigs for a while before continuing with the scare tactics and smear campaigns. Vaping has made me healthier, not sicker.
Submitted by IdontAGREE at: December 11, 2018
I smoke cigs for almost 20yrs. I picked up a juul and have not had a cig since. I feel better, breath better. No more waking up in the middle of the night choking on cig residue in my lungs. Sounds like big tobacco isnt appreciating the hit in sales and is fighting back. The fda goes and raids juul. why not Newport and Malboro. Why is Juul targeted and not the companies who's products are proven killers. I dont agree with this at all. Juul helped me quit when all else failed and im grateful for that. What i've seen over the years is big tobacco protected and the little guy who can help you quit is attacked and put out of business. Just like when mod vaping hit mainstream. Newport and Camel lobbied millions to have e-juice bars shut down.
Submitted by Good but biased at: November 29, 2018
I love but hate this articale because I started smoking cigarettes when I was young and then got a juul and I haven’t smoked a cigarette since. When you smoke cigarettes you can notice the difference in health but with juuling there is no difference I feel the same way I always have. I even asked my doctor if my acid reflux was from my juul and he said no it’s probably from your diet after I told him my eating habits. Your article shows no proof of dangers realated to juuls and you don’t mention the ingredients in the juice. The high school kid you cited on here has no credibility and yes adults do need a juul sized vape because it’s easy to fit the pocket unlike the big box vapes out there there is only 4 ingredients in juuls and about 7,000 in cigarettes. The only ingredients that are the same is nicotine which isn’t even the chemical that destroys the body of cigarette smokers. If you are gonna be an organization instead of giving false/lack of information you should be straight up and say you don’t know how harmful it is or if it’s that harmful at all. But what I love about this article is when you stated that we need to know more about vapes and the effects of them which yes I think we do cause IF they are harmful then we need to educate everyone in it but if they are alarmingly better then cigarettes then we should educate everyone in that too but you state no proof of them not being better or any statistics that people go back to cigarettes after juuling or even if it’s a gateway to cigarettes you just say it is. But IF it’s worse then educate away.
Submitted by Parent at: November 12, 2018
My son is 15 , he was targeted the fruity flavor pods and the new age look is by all means targeting our youth. He now has Pneumonia after experimenting with this junk for a few weeks. Parents warn your kids. Week of school missed, doctors visits twice and hes still trying to get over it after two weeks of antibiotics.
Submitted by JenFinallyQuit at: September 22, 2018
I am 48 years old and was born addicted to nicotine. I have tried every patch electronic e cig gum Everything with zero hope to ever quit. I decided to try yet another thing and tried JUUL. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me! I have not had a cigarette ever again. My voice has gone up an octave. I no longer sound like marge Simpson. I no longer cough and hack. I don’t smell bad anymore. Finally a product that actually helps smokers quit! There’s kids abusing all kinds of things and they always will. Keep educating. If there is one thing in my life I would go back and change if I could it would be the day I lit a cigarette. Finally I don’t have to feel like a criminal or looked down on...... but here we go again, due to teenagers abusing an adult product the hate campaign begins again against what I choose to do. Educate the teenagers about what nicotine does and what a crutch it is. JUUL saved my life and my lungs, I know the facts and research aren’t all in yet but I know the sound of my voice and my 15 year cough that’s gone.
Submitted by HippieKitten at: September 4, 2018
I am a 30 year old woman who smoked cigarettes for nearly 15 years. Juul helped me quit smoking and I feel SO much better! Juul is NOT marketed towards children. It was created by former smokers to help us quit. Everything has potential for abuse. It's our responsibility to educate children about the dangers of nicotine and cigarettes along with every other substance. This article completely ignores the benefit of Juul to people who want to quit smoking. It works! It may be a trade off but its certainly healthier than cigarettes.
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