There’s a new trend in the e-cigarette market that’s been under the radar until recently and it’s called Juuling. Juuling has gained attention because of how rapidly its grown amongst the 18 - 24 year old demographic and some reports are coming out that nearly 2 million middle and high school students are vaping with Juul’s products. This trend has many parents, teachers, and medical practitioners concerned as they are, fundamentally, e-cigarettes and contain nicotine.
Juuling refers to vaping using a vape device produced by a company call Juul. Juul sells a sleek vape device that’s slightly larger than a USB flash drive. This device heats up to vaporize an eLiquid so it can be inhaled into the lungs.
IS JUULING SAFE?
Yes and no. It’s still an e-cigarette and you’re inhaling a substance into your lungs that isn’t air. That’s rarely ever a good thing. It’s not completely safe, but Juuling and eLiquids contain far fewer toxic ingredients than traditional cigarettes. Where cigarettes have thousands of ingredients, most of which cause cause, eLiquids typically only have 3 - 5 depending on the blend. All of which are classified as food safe by the FDA, with nicotine being the exception.
However, there is still nicotine in the Juul pods which makes Juuling an addictive behavior. Each Juul pod has the same amount of nicotine as a standard pack of cigarettes despite their tiny size. You’ll get 200 puffs out of a single Juul pod and that may last you a week or it may last you a day depending on how often you do it. The CDC also warns that there may still be cancer causing ingredients in them, though their information is outdated as a diacetyl isn’t used as a flavoring anymore due to the known link between diacetyl and popcorn lung.
WHY DO PEOPLE DO IT?
Juul states on their website numerous times that their products are “intended for adult smokers” and they’re meant to be used as an alternative to smoking cigarettes. They’re not meant to be a recreational activity for kids and teens. They’ve even issued multiple statements about how they condemn underage use of their product.
That still doesn’t answer the question. Why?
Firstly, it’s a discreet way to vape. Vaping has generally earned a negative reputation because there are some individuals in the vaping community that have decided to violate decades of social norms when it comes to smoking. They’ll vape in the office, in an elevator, while they’re in a packed crowd, and so on. People that don’t vape don’t want to be around it. Just how people that don’t smoke don’t want to be around smokers.
Secondly, the flavors. Juul pods come in mint, mango, creme brulee, and a variety of limited time flavors which, as you can imagine, taste and smell far better than tobacco. They’re light and tasty and that’s appealing to everyone.
Lastly, it’s an alternative to smoking. As an ex-smoker myself, I wish I had vape products like these to help me stair step down my nicotine intake. (I went cold turkey. It sucked. 11 years without a cigarette though.) Even with a set amount of nicotine like the Juul pods have, I would be able to just vape as needed to keep the edge off rather than lighting up a whole cigarette. It definitely would have made my road to being smoke free a heck of a lot easier.
WHY IS JUULING SO POPULAR?
Juuling is so popular that it’s cornered roughly 35% of the vape marketing according to a study by Wells Fargo.
For adult vapers, it’s very beginner friendly. There aren’t many moving parts, there are only ~8 Juul pod flavors being sold at any one time, and it pretty affordable when you look at your other options. If you’re new to vaping, this is generally where you would start to see if you like it and want to dive deeper into the rabbit hole of mods, sub-ohm vaping, and so on.
As for why it’s popular with teenagers, it’s hard to say. It’s easy to say that it’s marketed to them (it isn’t) and easier to point a peer pressure which could be part of the overarching issue. Ultimately, it’s popularity is most likely due to how simple the device is compared to vape mods. Mods, for the uninitiated, are vape devices that you have to assemble and manage on your own and Juul’s simplicity lowers the barrier to entry for new vapers.
All you have to do to vape from a Juul device is connect a Juul pod to the body and inhale from the tip of the pod since it doubles as a mouthpiece.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT JUULING
So, this is always a sticky subject, but in order to buy Juul’s products online, you have to verify your age with a government issued ID because it has nicotine in it. More often than not, you have to verify your age before you can even access a vape company’s website. To buy the products in store, you still have to present an ID before you buy any vape product. If your kid is Juuling, they’re using someone else’s ID or they got someone over 21 to buy Juul’s products for them.
We were all kids once and we did things we shouldn’t have so don’t blow up over this. It’s just something that you need to know before talking to them. It’s important to be informed before going into this conversation so it can be constructive. It’ll also help to go into this conversation by letting them know you just want to understand more about it rather than scolding them.
When you talk to your kid, you should ask them why they’re Juuling to find out the underlying motivation. Is it because their friends do it? Is it because they enjoy blowing vapor / rings? Or is it because they’re trying to break smoking habit you didn’t know about? Once you know that, explain the dangers to them. Nicotine affects the development of teenage brains and while vaping is generally recognized as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, the true long-term effect of it is still unknown.
Regardless, be sure to stay calm, remain open, and not to lecture when you broach the subject with your kids. It’ll help create a dialogue rather than elicit an eyeroll or an argument that spirals out of control.