The Juul presents a new threat to youth
By: Randy Cole
Technology has certainly improved our quality of life in many ways, but has also provided a number of unique challenges for youth and their parents. We regularly witness the dangers of the internet and social media and the need to ensure as parents that we monitor our children’s activities and place appropriate boundaries for its use.
Another form of technology has recently brought a different kind of threat to the health and safety of our youth. Many of you are familiar with the increasing availability of e-cigarette and vaping products. Research is clearly demonstrating that the use of these products carry their own dangerous short and long-term health consequences. While often advertised as a safer alternative to tobacco use, these products often contain high levels of nicotine and other addictive substances that result in more extreme consequences than the traditional use of tobacco products.
The most recent trend in the use of vaping products, Juuling, exhibits two of the more common characteristics of illegal substance use, concealment and intensity. It is quickly becoming an issue in our community, particularly in local middle and high schools. The instrument used is referred to as the Juul and is simply a smaller, slimmer and sleeker vaporizer. It uses small liquid pods to deliver high doses of nicotine or other products. Part of its attractiveness to youth include fruity flavors, a sweet scent and the vapor cloud can be easily concealed. Its appearance is similar to a flash drive and it can even be recharged by attaching to a computer’s USB port. This allows for its discreet use in school bathrooms, libraries and even classrooms.
The Juul also packs a punch with each pod containing the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, often more than double the dose found in traditional vaping products. The use of any nicotine product is a health concern for youth as it is considered the single most addictive drug in the world.
Youth are particularly susceptible as research shows nicotine products have a long-term impact on the brain’s development and may affect a teen’s behavior, concentration, memory and ability to learn. According to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care, youth who use vaping products are twice as likely to suffer from a persistent cough, bronchitis, congestion and other respiratory issues.
The Juul and other vaping products fall under the purview of the South Carolina Tobacco Act of 2006, amended in 2013 to include alternative nicotine products, making it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase, possess or use a tobacco product. Tobacco use related deaths remain by far the leading substance use associated deaths in our country each year. As an agency, we are working closely with youth, parents and educators to raise the awareness of the dangers of new products such as the Juul and the inherent short and long-term health consequences.
As parents, I encourage you to initiate a discussion with your child in regards to the dangers of vaping and its associated products and let them know your concerns and expectations with the choices they make. As a parent, regardless of today’s technology, you remain the most influential voice in your child’s life.