Syda Productions/ShutterstockWhat sounds like the name of a new dance, JUULing is instead a dangerous form of vaping sweeping through high school hallways and bathrooms across the country. Research from Truth Initiative shows that 25 percent of 15- to–24-year-old JUUL users do not identify their behavior as vaping, instead referring to it as “JUULing.” And kids may be equally clueless as to what they are actually inhaling when they JUUL. A Truth Initiative web panel survey of 1,018 15- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. revealed that 37 percent of teens were uncertain that they were inhaling nicotine, although it clearly states on the JUUL website that each pod is equal to 200 cigarette puffs. That’s like smoking a pack a day.
“It is extremely worrisome that teens and young adults do not know that when they JUUL, they are inhaling an addictive substance,” says Robin Koval, CEO and President of the Truth Initiative. “But it’s not surprising—many young people do not purchase their own vape products, and there will not be labeling requirements indicating that products contain nicotine until August 2018.” (If you need to quit smoking, don’t miss the 15 mind-blowing ways your body heals after you quit the habit.
As with other activities, teenagers are prone to try new things with their friends, and that includes sharing vaping products that their friends may have bought. Truth Initiative notes that many states don’t have age restrictions for vape purchases.
Like other forms of vaping, the JUULpods are offered in enticing flavors such as créme bruleé and mango, increasing their appeal to kids. And rather than smelling like an ashtray, JUUL smells pleasant. And then there’s the cool factor—the JUUL device is sleek, available in an array of colors, and resembles a thumb drive that’s easily concealed, so it’s easy to see why they’re popular with teens.
One factor that could keep JUULs away from kids is that they don’t come cheap. The Boston Globe reports that a JUUL “starter” kit (which includes a USB charger, a warranty, and a four-pack of the flavored JUULpods) costs $49.99 if you buy it online from the company. Refill pods cost $15.95 for a four-pack. Although you need to be 21 years old or older to purchase the device online, and JUUL Labs is committed to combating underage usage of their product, teens are still managing to get their hands on a JUUL.
JUUL is still too new to have any data specific to its risks as a product, but nicotine is known as a highly addictive substance and Truth Initiative reports that it can alter nerve cell functioning in teen development. In case you were wondering, here’s why even smart teens do dumb things.