Juuling is the latest trend to hit the market, and it’s affecting our youth more and more everyday. So what is juuling? It looks like a USB flash drive, it charges as you would charge any USB device, but it’s essentially a modern day, more sleek vape or e-cigarette with various flavor choices. Juuls are easy to carry and conceal due to their small design that slips into any pocket while other vapes or e-cigarettes on the market are quite bulky to carry. Nearly 40 years ago 30% of high school students smoked cigarettes. Fast forward to 2015, where according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services smoking was at an all time low at 5.5%. Enter juuling — which nearly 25% of high schoolers are using on a daily basis. Not only that, but Juul Labs’ juul devices make up for ~70% of the current e-cigarette market.
Why Is Juuling So Worrisome?
One cartridge provides the nicotine equivalent of an entire pack of cigarettes and one cartridge only lasts around 200 puffs. Juuls are dangerous because nicotine and other chemicals are masked by strong flavors such as mango or creme bruleé, which makes it easier to smoke indoors and in places where traditional cigarettes are not allowed.
Ashely Gould, Chief Administrative Officer of Juul Labs says, “[Our product] was absolutely not made to look like a USB port. It was absolutely not made to look discreet, for kids to hide them in school. It was made to not look like a cigarette, because when smokers stop [smoking cigarettes] they don’t want to be reminded of cigarettes.” (via time.com)
Some critics have stated that regardless of Juul Labs’ intentions, kids are lured in by the ease of hiding and use of juuls, and that Juul Labs should take responsibility to stop teens from getting ahold of these e-cigarettes. Juul Labs’ response has been that they only allow those that can confirm they are 21+ to make any purchases on their website. While this may be true, when juuls are sold in retail locations, you only have to follow state regulations which means you can be 18 and purchase these e-cigarettes.
What’s So Dangerous About Juuling?
First, nicotine is one of the most addictive substances we know of. Having such easy access to a highly addictive substance is scary as none of us want our children to fall into hard-to-break addictions. Second, vaping is a fairly new concept and we do not know what long term negative health effects may be. Third, certain e-cigarette flavors have been known to cause a phenomenon known as bronchiolitis obliterans or popcorn lung. This respiratory condition was first seen in factory employees that worked on manufacturing microwaveable popcorn. Popcorn lung damages your lungs’ smallest air passages, which makes one cough and causes shortness of breath.
The FDA Intervenes
As of November 2018, the FDA has taken on combating the use of vapes and e-cigarettes amongst teenagers. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has ordered the removal of all e-nicotine products with the exception of mint, tobacco or menthol flavors from any store that children under 18 may have access to. Gottlieb has also made known that if there isn’t a significant reduction in use of e-nicotine products amongst the youth, he is willing to pull the plug on the entire e-cigarette and vaping industry.
This step is an interesting one as vapes are expected to be 95% safer than cigarettes, yet there have been no recent steps by the FDA of minimizing the use of cigarettes.
[Updating Story] Stay tuned for what develops next with this controversial and important trend.