e-Cigarettes have been around since 2006, and by that name most people assume there is nicotine in the product. They are also easy to spot when people use them—they look like a fake cigarette or pipe and produce a noticeable cloud of vapor. Which is why the term vaping is used to describe them. JUULing is a newer form of e-Cigarettes that came on the market in 2017.
JUUL is popular among middle and high school students because of its small size and flavors such as mango and crème brulee —which appeals to a younger audience. The device is also very small and looks like a USB device. The JUUL even recharges in a computer USB slot, so parents may not know it is a JUUL device their kids are using. In 2018, JUUL accounted for about 40% of the e-cigarette market, grossing 150 million in retail sales the last quarter alone.
“The scariest part of these products is kids don’t know it contains nicotine and other harmful products. Kids think it is just water and flavoring,” says Joyce Jacobs. Joyce is a Heart and Vascular Prevention and Wellness Nurse Navigator at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, who teaches the Freshstart smoking cessation program at St. Elizabeth and is a Mayo Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist and a Mayo Certified Wellness Coach.
In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that although there has been a decline in cigarette use, vaping has increased. Even more troubling, it is the youth of America that are using the products. E-cigarette use increased from 11.7% to 20.8% among high school students and from 3.3% to 4.9% among middle school students from 2017 to 2018.
The Hidden Dangers of Vaping
The liquid used in vaping contains nicotine. One of the issues is that the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate these products. Therefore, the amount of nicotine is not known. Some products contain the same or even more than the amount found in cigarettes.
Even the FDA doesn’t want your children using these products. In late July, the FDA released new anti-vaping commercials warning of the dangers of vaping.
Joyce describes the dangers of this practice, saying, “Vaping doesn’t involve burning—it turns a liquid into aerosol before it is inhaled. The aerosol is not harmless water vapor, it contains particles of nicotine, toxic chemicals to help the body ingest the nicotine and sometimes even heavy metals.”
Many of the products in vaping liquid have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart diseases. Long-term studies on the effect of vaping have not taken place because the product has not been on the market long enough and is not FDA approved. Experts believe the addiction to vaping may also be harder to kick than cigarette use. Most of the pharmaceuticals used to help adults quit smoking are not approved for people under the age of 18.
“Nicotine is also harmful to developing brains,” says Joyce. “Your brain is developing until you are 26. Nicotine can halt that growth in the prefrontal cortex, which controls attention/focus, learning, mood, and impulse control.” Joyce shares more of the serious dangers these e-Cigarettes pose to children in this recent news segment .
What Can You Do To Kick the Vaping Habit
The first step in kicking the vaping habit is education. Many young people don’t understand the facts about vaping. A recent study showed 60% of teens that vape don’t know vaping liquid contains nicotine.
Parents need to be aware of vaping and JUULs. JUULS are small and can be mistaken for a USB drive. Teens are able to use it discreetly in the open because they have learned how to hide it.
“It is a problem in every school and probably at home, but it is hard to recognize,” Joyce explains. “When I visit schools to teach about vaping, kids tell me how easy it is to hide from adults. They hold it on their wrist with a hairband, or they have learned how to hold it in their hand undetected.”
In July, a federal court decided that by May 2020, e-Cigarette manufacturers will need to apply to the FDA for a public health review of their products. The lawsuit that brought this issue to court was filed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Maryland chapter, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Truth Initiative and five individual pediatricians.
If you want to quit vaping, there are resources to help you. If you are over 18 years of age, you can join the St. Elizabeth Freshstart Program , a free 4-week smoking cessation program developed by the American Cancer Society and designed to help you take charge of your efforts to quit smoking. If you are under 18 you should:
- Talk to your parents.
- Talk to your primary care doctor.
- Truth Initiative quit program. This digital program uses texting. You can access the program by texting “QUIT” to (706) 222-QUIT.
- QuitStart app from Smokefree.gov. The free smartphone app helps you quit through tips, inspiration, and challenges.
“The best advice is never start vaping,” says Joyce. “No one knows enough about how harmful they can be and what the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers will be on people who do vape.”
Joyce adds, “I suggest everyone use August 1, Lung Cancer Awareness day, to learn more about vaping and talk to your kids about the risks of starting this dangerous habit.”