The trend of Juuling, or using JUUL vapes, has become very popular among high school students all across the country. JUUL is a brand of vapes or e-cigarettes and is uniquely popular, in part, due to its size. JUUL vapes look just like a thumb drive, easy to conceal and easy to use. Kids can charge these vape pens by using the USB port on their laptops and parents and teachers would never know that they were actually charging an e-cigarette.
On its website, JUUL lists starter kits that include one rechargeable JUUL device, a four-pack of JUUL pods in different flavors and a USB charger, and the cost? Just $50.
Despite the fact that vape doesn’t have the 7000 or so toxic chemicals found in traditional cigarettes, there are still health risks that parents and kids need to be aware of. While we have come a long way as a society with educating kids about smoking cigarettes and fewer kids actually use traditional cigarettes, the risks associated with vaping need to be our next research and educational target.
It is usually shock that I see on a parents face when I tell them just how much nicotine is actually in one JUUL. Each pod contains the same amount of nicotine that is in one pack of cigarettes and offers 200 ‘puffs’ per pod.
Nicotine is nicotine, regardless of how kids use it, it is highly addictive and negatively affects the developing brain of a teenager. Recent studies also show that vaping can be a gateway to other drug use. Chronic nicotine use has also been linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
It is estimated that about 20 percent of high school students have used a JUUL at least once and in my practice, most of the kids I meet with use vape pens regularly.
Despite the fact that the company states on its website that users must be 21 years old to purchase and use their products, they offer flavors that are ‘kid friendly’, like mango, creme brulee, and fruit medley, which calls into question who they are actually targeting in their marking.
I have asked many of the kids I work with in my practice why they like vaping and the answers are usually the same. Kids say they like the head rush or the high, they think it looks cool, and ‘ghosting’ vape is a skill that gets attention from their peers.
What is ‘dripping’?
Dripping is a popular new vaping method that teens use in an effort to intensify the overall experience. Obviously, dripping e-cigarette liquid directly on the hot coils of the device can be dangerous, but doing this also exposes the user to other toxins, like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, which are both carcinogens. According to a study in the Journal of Pediatrics, 39 percent of kids said they ‘drip’ for better flavor and 28 percent said they do it for the stronger throat hit or feeling it produces.
What are the signs that your child is vaping?
The vapor produced by e-cigarettes can be either odorless or scented, but most teens choose the scented e-liquids. Flavors like bubblegum, chocolate, caramel, and mango are particularly popular among teens so if you, as a parent, smell sweet aromas that seem new or different on your child, that can be a clue.
Vape pens come in all different shapes and sizes. They can look like a sharpie pen, a thumb drive, even a cell phone, so if you suspect your child is vaping, take a closer look at what you think might just be a pen or a thumb drive.
E-cigarettes work by vaporizing a liquid and once the liquid is gone, the device can be refilled. The process of refilling often involves using cotton balls, metal wire, and coils, so if you see any of those items in your child’s room, it is time for a talk.
Parents should be on the lookout for atomizers in your child’s trash can. Atomizers work on e-cigarettes by turning the liquid inside into vapor and they eventually burn out. If you come across any of those, your child is obviously vaping.
What is the easiest way to know if your child is vaping?
Kids talk about and post everything they are doing on their smartphones. Instagram, for example, has hundreds of images of kids showing off their ‘ghosting’ skills while vaping. If you, as a parent are using Social judo, you will get an alert sent directly to your smartphone every time your child takes or posts a picture using their smartphone. Is there any easier way to know what is going on in your child’s life than that?
Social Judo is where smart parents become smarter parents and it is the only parenting tool I recommend in my practice every single day. The time has come for more parental involvement in cyberspace and there is no easier way to be involved than Social Judo.
Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.