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Sweeping popularlity of the Juul vaping device among teens presents dangers

Posted at 9:54 AM, Apr 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-30 07:48:23-04

A new vaping device has gone viral among teens across the country.

It's called a Juul, a tiny, discrete, dangerous nicotine-vape device and many parents may not even know their teens are smoking in plain sight.

It's a way of vaping with a small new device that can be easily hidden, or mistaken for a thumb drive.

According to vaping experts, Juuls don't put out the same amount of volume of vapor, cloud or steam, making it very easy for teens to get away with and conceal.

"The design of it, leads and lends itself to use by young people," said Dr. Mazda Shirazi, director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.

Juul products can easily be recharged, even with a computer, and because the Juul pods are flavored, the scent can be mistaken for perfume. Juul devices and pods can be ordered online, a starter kit goes for $49.99.

According to a spokesman for the company, Juul uses "industry-leading I.D. match" technology, which means people need to have proof of I.D., but experts say, kids simply lie about their age and use a prepaid debit card to make the purchase.

Due to their sleek design and resemblance to USB drives, these highly concentrated nicotine vaporizers are easy for students to conceal and use in school, sometimes even in the middle of class. It has become the latest craze to hit campuses across the country, even in Pima County.

In fact, Juuls are rising in campus popularity at Mountain View High School in Marana.

"On our campus alone, we have suspended 60 students for it this year, " said Athletic Director and Dean of Students Nathan Orelup.

He believes it's not just happening in the Marana Unified School District. "My own child goes to another local high school and he sees it in his classes too and I talk to other administrators and they see it too, it's everywhere," he added.

Medical experts and school administrators in the country argue it's important for parents at home to know what the devices are.

Juuling is marketed as a tobacco-free alternative to regular cigarettes, Dr. Shirazi said. Most of the teens who use juuls say they use them because they are trying to quit smoking. Such is the case at Mountain View High, "I'll ask them why they're doing it, 50% of the time, its not mine. or they say they're trying to quit smoking." Orelup said.

However, Dr. Shirazi says the theory is incorrect. In fact, he warns otherwise, "they're picking it up and using it at a higher rate than other vaping devices and cigarettes in general," he said. Teens and their parents know too little about the risks, he added.

According to Dr. Shirazi, there's not much of a regulation on the e-liquids used in order to know whether they are free of other chemicals that can be harmful, metals and in general utilization will addict teens and make them more dependent on nicotine. 

The Juul website indicates a pod of it's e-liquid carries the same amount of nicotine they'd receive from smoking a whole pack of cigarettes, which is about 200 puffs. The concern is becoming so big, even the Food and Drug Administration is getting involved by announcing that it is cracking down on the sale and marketing of juuls, all in hopes of combating youth use.

What can parents do? 

Talk to your kids about the dangers of using any form of tobacco or nicotine product. Although they may be less harmful than traditional e-cigarettes, it is important to remind children that juuling and vaping is bad for their health.

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