E-cigarettes, Vaping and Juuling; What Parents Need to Know
By Natalia Darling, PA-C
E-cigarettes and other similar electronic smoking devices have only existed in the United States for a little over ten years, but since their introduction there has been an explosion of middle schoolers and high schoolers choosing to use these smokeless tobacco devices, so much so that the use of e-cigarettes has far outstripped the use of traditional cigarettes for children and adolescents. In 2017, approximately 2.1 million middle and high schoolers stated that they used electronic nicotine delivery systems and that number may only be on the rise, as from the years 2011-2015 the use of e-cigarettes and vaping rose an astounding 900 percent in high school students. Interestingly, the only age group that has a seen an increase in the number of people smoking since 1970 have been 11-15-year-olds, while all other age groups have experienced a decline. This is becoming a tremendous public health problem, as studies have shown that the younger the age that one is exposed to nicotine, the stronger the addiction that develops can be and the harder to break.
There are many names for electronic smoking devices and the act of using nicotine smokelessly; you may hear terms such as e-cigarettes or e-cigs, vaping, juuling, dripping, hookah pens, e-hookahs, mods, tank systems, or vape pipes. The devices were reportedly intended to be created for adults seeking an alternative to cigarettes or a method to quit smoking, but they have been becoming increasingly more popular and widely used by teens and adolescents. Although technically it is only legally available in most states to those 18 and older and online purchases are reportedly limited to 21 years of age and up, proof of age is not always asked for or required. These smokeless devices can be easily concealed from parents, as they barely create an odor, smoke or smell and are designed to be compact and easy to carry in a pocket. Many are made to resemble USBs, pens, a car key fob, or even inhalers (click here for some photo examples). Making them even easier to conceal is the fact that they also produce less smoke and odor to the point that some companies even claim that they are “undetectable” so they can be used almost anywhere and not always be noticed. Some cartridges come in enticing flavors such as mango, vanilla and crème brulee which may be tempting to a pre-teen or adolescent, however what many young adults don’t understand is that each of these cartridges can contain as much nicotine as a pack of pack of cigarettes and therefore holds its own health risks and possible addictive and cancer-causing potential per the CDC. Because there is little long-term data on the topic, users sometimes believe that there are no dangers or long-term health risks associated, however, Juuls and e-cigarettes have come into popularity so recently that long-term research needs to be gathered.
Talk to your preteens and teens about e-cigarettes, juuling and vaping using this handy resource published by the office of the surgeon general. If you need help having this conversation, give us a call at 301 279-6705