First, what is the difference between vaping and juuls? Both are an alternative to cigarettes as nicotine can be added but also flavorful juices can be used instead of nicotine. Both also seem to be considered an e-cigarette or a form of an e-cigarette.
A juul is considered an e-cigarette. It is rather small and often looks like a USB flash drive. Because of this design, it makes it difficult for teachers and school administrators to catch kids with them. It also makes it harder for parents to find them as well. When nicotine is added into the juul, it is equivalent to a pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs (www.truthinitiative.org). A recent report
by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Public Health Conse-quence of E-Cigarettes states that kids are 4x more likely to become cigarette smokers if they start with a juul.
So, what is a vape? Vaping has grown in popularity since the e-cigarette came on the market in 2007. Vapes release aerosol into the air, which is often mistaken for water vapor. This aerosol contains particles with toxic chemicals. A vape can have flavored juice or nicotine, just like a juul, but tend to be bigger in size. Other drugs such as cannabis oil and flakka, which is a synthetic drug, can be added into a vape.
Amongst these chemicals is diacetyl (American Lung Association). This is released into the air with the aerosol. This chemical was originally used in popcorn factories for the “buttery” flavor-ing put in microwavable popcorn. Workers in the factory that made and packaged the popcorn became sick with an irreversible disease we now call popcorn lung. Popcorn lung is described as “scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs resulting in the thickening and narrowing of the air-ways.” This is a serious lung disease that causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath (www.lung.org).
Diacetyl is found in the juices kids are attracted to and add into their e-cigarettes. Researchers at Harvard found that 39 of 51 e-cigarette brands contained diacetyl. The study also found two sim-ilarly harmful chemicals—2,3 pentanedione and acetoin—present in 23 and 46 of the 51 flavors it tested. And roughly 92 percent of the e-cigarettes had one of the three chemicals present (www.hsph.harvard.edu).
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that teenage boys are 2x more likely than girls to start using e-cigarettes and that 9.5% of 8th graders are using them. 14% of 10th graders are using some form of e-cigarette and 16.2% of 12th graders use them. The NIDA also reports that 30.7% of teens who start with an e-cigarette will be smoking cigarettes within 6 months compared to 8.1% of a nonuser.
These numbers are alarming. Juuls, vapes and any form of e-cigarette are a new gimmick that teens have fallen into. This is the “cool” thing to do now and so many of the kids that I work with have either tried using them or are using them. An alarming number of kids do not know what is in the devices they use to inhale juice or tobacco. This makes it even more dangerous as other substances can be introduced without the teen even knowing it.
Parents, please educate yourself on this growing teen trend. If your child tells you that he or she is not inhaling nicotine, please beware that they are still consuming harmful chemicals. Chemicals that we know are cancer causing. To learn more, please check out the following links:
Erin Pawlak, MS, LPCC
Therapist and Adolescent IOP Director