It’s the new fad that sweeps through America’s teenagers and the hottest topic of conversation in the WhatsApp parent groups. This is Juul, an electronic cigarette with the appearance of a USB stick. You have probably seen one in your child’s room and you have completely overlooked it.
Just search the harsh tag #doit4juul on Twitter or Instagram to discover that Juul has become a phenomenon. The young ones use it in the bathrooms, in the libraries, under the patio stairs … If until now it has gone unnoticed it is because the device is really discreet.
The directors of the schools are trying to stop the trend. The head of a school in Miami confiscates two Juul a week. In a district of Pennsylvania they have gone so far as to ban all USB flash drives on campus to try to eliminate Juul. The director of a center in DC is so burdened by the problem that he has ordered the doors to be removed from the toilets.
Is it really the thing for so much? This is what you need to know:
What does a Juul look like?
Juul is an elongated and thin vaporizer that uses small capsules with nicotine extract. The capsules come in flavours like mango. Some call it the vapeador’s iPhone because of its elegant and minimalist design.
How does it work?
Like all vaporizers. The device heats the liquid with the aromas and nicotine extract to generate a vapor that is inhaled by the user.
Who is it for?
Juul is described as a company whose goal is to end cigarettes providing a real alternative to adult smokers. The company says expressly on its website that the product is not appropriate for minors, ex-smokers or non-smokers. To buy Juul from the official website you must be 21 years and above and must go through an age verification process. In stores, the buyer must be of legal age to buy tobacco or nicotine products according to the laws of each state.
Despite all this, teenagers are finding a way to buy it just as they found a way to buy tobacco years ago. They buy it on unregulated pages, they falsify their age.
How does it feel?
Jack Waxman is a student from New York who is trying to make people aware of the dangers of using Juul at such a young age. He himself claims to have seen friends follow the same path. The first thing that attracts is the taste and the slight buzz that nicotine provides. After using it regularly for a while, the rush ends. They only use it to return to feel normal. It’s exactly like tobacco, Waxman explains.
How much nicotine does it contain?
Juul’s flavoured liquids contain 59 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of flavoured liquid. One capsule has on average 0.7 ml of which 5% is nicotine. In other words, each capsule contains the same nicotine as a pack of cigarettes and yields 200 puffs. It’s more than double what other vaping products have. It provides a fast and powerful nicotine rush.
How dangerous is it for youngsters?
In general, vaping is considered a healthier alternative to tobacco in adults because it does not burn tobacco and does not release carcinogenic substances. However, no product for vaping can be considered 100% safe, especially in young people. The FDA expressly forbids Juul from making any kind of claim that its products are less harmful or safer than the cigarettes of a lifetime.
The brain of adolescents is still developing and is particularly vulnerable to addictive substances. Nicotine is among the most addictive substances and there are studies that prove that exposure to nicotine has negative effects on brain development. It affects behavior, concentration and their ability to learn.
There are other reasons to worry. A recent study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care concludes that adolescents who use electronic cigarettes are twice as likely to suffer respiratory problems ranging from a simple chronic cough to bronchitis, congestion and excess phlegm. There is also evidence that young vapers are more likely to end up switching to normal tobacco than those who do not vape.
Finally, there are many teenagers who do not know what they are inhaling. A study by the National Institute Against Drug Abuse showed that many teens believe that the liquid they use to vape only contains flavourings to give it flavour. To make things worse, some Juul users are filling the capsules with their own mixes, which is even more dangerous.