Child Safety - Miller & Zois

E-Cigarette or Juul Safety Tips

JUULAsk any parent of a teenager and they'll be happy to talk to you about how eventful life becomes once your child enters their teenage years. There are so many new milestones that children face in this new phase of life as they grow into adults, and it becomes the parent's duty to help them navigate through these new experiences that can be both wonderful and terrible. One such dilemma that almost every teen and their parents will eventually have to contend with is the introduction of tobacco products and the pressure to try smoking for the first time.

In the past, programs like D.A.R.E. were created to effectively inform America's youth on the health risks that we know to be associated with smoking cigarettes. However, there has been a new development in the past decade that has presented a whole new challenge to parents that are trying to stop their children from smoking.

What is an E-Cigarette?

Electronic cigarettes, or "E-cigarettes," are electronic smoking devices that are used to inhale an aerosol "vapor" by burning a flavored liquid containing sometimes massive levels of nicotine, as well as several other potentially harmful chemicals or additives. There are many different brands and types of "e-cigs," however the most popular and well-known is called a "Juul."

Juul is a brand of e-cig sold in most convenience stores across the United States. It is a very small and inconspicuous device that fits easily in the palm of your hand or in your pocket, and is very difficult to recognize because it so closely resembles a USB drive. Each Juul is equipped with a "pod," which is a small, replaceable cartridge filled with a flavored liquid that is burned to create the nicotine-filled vapor that is inhaled by the user.

E-cigarettes like the Juul have skyrocketed in popularity within the past decade, especially amongst teenagers in middle and high school. Consequently, this new trend has become a major cause for concern among both parents and health professionals.

How are E-Cigarettes Harmful?

In a twist of clever marketing, e-cigarettes like the Juul have been promoted heavily as a "safe alternative" to smoking traditional tobacco products like cigarettes. However, this is ultimately a very false and misleading claim. Many people believe that instead of inhaling the harmful carcinogens in traditional cigarettes, they are choosing a much less toxic product when they "Juul." This is false.

According to the American Lung Association, the aerosol that is inhaled when using a Juul is most often an assortment of many harmful chemicals, including nicotine, formaldehyde, and acrolein. Nicotine is highly addictive, and any exposure to this chemical during adolescence can be extremely harmful to a teenager's developing brain. Additionally, formaldehyde is a known cause of cancer in humans, while acrolein is a chemical typically used in weed killers that can be a cause of irreversible damage to one's lungs.

E-cigarettes are still considered a very new product, and recent reviews from the British Medical Journal found that these devices were able to reach the market without any extensive preclinical toxicology reports OR long-term safety trials. So, one cannot help but wonder how such a potentially harmful, untested product became so popular with teenagers in such a short time.

Why are so Many Teenagers Juuling?

Child Vaping Safety InfographicAccording to the CDC, e-cigarette use is on the rise among middle and high school aged students, with more than 3.5 million of them using e-cigarettes in 2018. There are several factors that may be contributing to this popularity of Juuling among teens, including misleading yet alluring advertising campaigns, a variety of "kid-friendly" flavored products to choose from, and their easy accessibility to young consumers.

Juul products - which advertisers continue to market as a safer, inexpensive, and easily assessible alternative to traditional cigarettes - can simply be purchased online or at most convenience stores, if the person buying it is 21 years or older.

Juul pods are available in a wide variety of deliberately appetizing flavors, such as strawberry milk, mango, or mint, which effectively eliminates the issues of bad taste and smell that are associated with traditional cigarette use. In fact, a study by the Centers for Disease Control found that 31% of teenagers that use e-cigarettes attributed their use to the variety of flavors there was to choose from.

In addition to all of this is the fact that it is extremely easy for teens to Juul discreetly in school and at home without drawing the attention of adults. This wide-ranging appeal that Juuling has for teens leaves parents and health professionals with an extremely difficult task as we try to stop the harmful effects of Juuling from reaching America's youth.

How can I Talk to my Child About E-Cigarettes?

Talking to your child about e-cigarettes is more important now than ever. E-cigarettes and Juul use are reaching their peak popularity, and your child may not be immune from the immense peer pressure from school peers and friends. As soon as you find the time, it's a good idea to have a serious talk about the dangers of vaping. Here are a few tips that can help you:

  • If you're worried about how to bring up the topic, try to talk to them when you see vaping in public. Vaping is often shown on the street, on TV, in news articles, or on advertisements. These situations can help you transition into a more serious topic.
  • It's okay to approach the topic in a caring manner, but don't forget to be assertive. Make it clear that you do not want them to vape in any manner, and explain why.
  • Give them the facts and real dangers about vaping. Show them the statistics, the news about vaping illnesses, the economic impact, and the ways vaping can damage their lungs. We're not telling you to scare your child, but make it clear that vaping is not a joke.
  • Help them find ways to stay away from vaping when they are tempted by peers. Let them know that any friend who tries to force you to do something dangerous is not being a good friend. If you know a friend of theirs that doesn't vape, talk to them about helping your child stay away from vapes too. It can be hard for a child to stand up to their peers when they're alone, but having a friend to back up their decision can make it much easier.
What if my Child is Already "Juuling"?

This has become a common situation for many parents. Vaping has surged in popularity so quickly that parents are caught off guard by their child suddenly being swept up in this new trend. If your child is already vaping or juuling, it's imperative that you try to help them quit as soon as possible. Children and teenagers are more susceptible to addictive substances, especially when it's the "cool" thing to do. Try these tips:

  • Be supportive and caring of your child. Any parent that finds their child vaping will be angry, but simply yelling at them will not do much. In fact, it could just cause them to rebel against you. Let them know that you're aware that quitting nicotine is hard, and that you'll be there for them every step of the way. Remember: it may take many tries for someone to fully quit a nicotine addiction. Don't forget to remind them that you're proud of their efforts, and you can even celebrate when they hit small milestones.
  • Educate them about the different resources ands tools that can help them quit vaping. There are several different quit-smoking programs that have been successful in helping young people. Truth initiative has a good list of resources for people looking to quit vaping or tobacco products.

Where can I Stay Informed and up to Date on E-Cigarettes and Vaping?

There are several peer reviewed, reliable resources that are available on the internet for anyone who is looking for more information on E-cigarettes and assistance with what they can do to prepare their teenagers for this new challenge.