To improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes… this is JUUL’s mission as stated on their website homepage. JUUL is a major player in the e-cigarette industry, controlling more than 70% of the market. Their goal is to convince tobacco smokers to switch to their vaping device as a ‘less harmful’ choice. But instead of being lauded for their efforts to potentially save lives, the company found itself in hot water as it was accused of marketing to teens. By now, you probably have guessed that the term ‘juuling’, a trendier slang for vaping, was derived from the name of the JUUL device.
In 2018, around 3.6 million of the U.S. youth population were vaping. Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor from an e-cigarette, vape pen, or other nicotine delivery device. The increase was considered phenomenal especially among high school students where there was a 78% increase compared to the previous year. Many anti-vaping groups say that there are many factors to blame for this increase.
Behind the Juuling Trend
Many blame the sleek design of the JUUL which looks like a regular USB device. It is easy to disguise it especially from adults who are not aware that what the teens have are actually vaping devices. The slim form also makes it easy for teens to hide it under their clothes or in their backpacks. This is quite different from earlier e-cigarettes which are obviously vaping devices or are clunky in form.
Vaping is also less conspicuous than using tobacco cigarettes. Instead of being seen as a rebellious teen acting out, juuling is now a norm across schools. Social media, of course, played a big role. Until now, the #juul hashtag shows images and video clips of underage users with clouds of vape smoke.
JUUL comes in different flavors, somewhat similar to Middle Eastern hookah. However, you wouldn’t need to lug around the heavy hookah device because you can get the fruity smoke in a small device. With variants like fruit medley, cool cucumber, mango, and crème brûlée, JUUL becomes more attractive to teens who wouldn’t normally touch tobacco cigarettes because of its smell and taste. Because of the backlash, JUUL was forced to tone down their flavor names to just fruit, cucumber, and crème to sound less like candy. The company also stopped selling these sweeter flavors in stores and shut down their US Facebook and Instagram pages.
Why Teens Should Stop Juuling
JUUL was adamant in saying that they never meant for teens to use their device as it was always intended as a cigarette substitute. The company said that they are now changing their marketing strategy to ensure that underage vaping can be avoided and eliminated. However, all these do not change the reality that a large chunk of the juuling population is made up of underage vapers.
According to a recent study published in the Pediatrics journal, many teens do not realize that there is nicotine in the vaping devices that they use. Teens often think that they are only smoking water and flavoring, not knowing that vaping devices actually contain nicotine and other chemicals that can be addictive. Worse, many are unaware that one vape pod is almost equivalent to a pack of cigarettes.
The teens’ exposure to nicotine should be enough for parents and government officials to be alarmed. Adolescents’ brains are still developing and no amount of nicotine is safe. It can harm the brain and pose learning and attention problems. The risk of being addicted is also much higher. Recently, JUUL has relabeled their packages with a nicotine warning but many say that this is already too late as many teens are already addicted to vaping.
The misconception that vaping is a ‘healthier’ choice should also not be encouraged. According to experts, just because vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes does not mean that the act itself is safe. Studies are now coming out showing that using e-cigarettes can have the same short-term negative effects as smoking tobacco cigarettes. While data on long-term effects are still unknown, these findings must not be ignored especially when it comes to teens.
Forming the vaping habit at a very early age is also risky. It is said to increase the probability of using tobacco cigarettes later on. Possibilities of vape users turning to more dangerous narcotics also exist.
What Can You Do As A Parent?
It is possible to get addicted to vaping. Many teens do not realize that the habit can wreak havoc to their lives and their future. As parents, it is important to handle this situation with caution, especially if your child is already dependent on vaping. Enforcing strict restrictions on your teen child could push them to rebel and do it more.
You don’t need to do it alone. You can help your kid get back on the right track. We are here to help.
Contact Morningside Recovery by Lighthouse to learn more about our full-spectrum of comprehensive addiction treatment programs.