Over the past several years, vaping, rather than smoking cigarettes, has become popular, especially among teenagers and the young-adult set. Now, parents are on alert about the latest trend, "Juuling," which involves The Juul, a type of e-cigarette that looks like a USB drive that is being discreetly used by children as young as middle-school age inside their classrooms. With this vaping trend on the rise around the nation, parents are figuring out if they need to be concerned for their children, and the short answer is yes.
We spoke with Paul Lavella, counselor and director of alumni services at Summit Behavioral Health, who says that there are three main reasons vaping has become popular with teens: "accessibility, portability, and discretion." Because it's easy for teens to purchase these devices and they're easily hidden due to their tiny size, teens are able to carry them around and use them without detection — and without thinking about the consequences. Lavella says it's a very common misconception to think that vaping is "healthier" than smoking cigarettes or even safe, but that's definitely not the case.
"It has been well-documented that these vaporized oils still contains levels of carcinogenic chemicals, and when we talk specifically of adolescent use, we are still talking about exposing the developing adolescent brain to a highly addictive toxin: nicotine," Lavella told POPSUGAR. "Researchers are continuing to study this trend to establish long-term effects of using vaporized oils. The high nicotine levels in some of these products create a buzz or a mild high that users may initially seek after; however, this can turn compulsive rather quickly, leading to dependence and making it difficult for users to stop on their own."
Thanks to antitobacco campaigns, like Truth, the number of teens smoking had recently reached an all-time low, but now, thanks to e-cigarettes and the flavored vaporized oils that are especially enticing to teens, a lot of that prevention work has been reversed.
"In the 1980s and '90s, the US placed many grant-funded dollars into teen smoking prevention. A leading reason for this, secondary to reducing general health risk, was to prevent substance use disorders later in life, as there is a casual relationship between teen smoking and reported substance use in young adulthood. These efforts were wildly successful. However, with the advent of the vaping and 'Juuling' trend, we are seeing the effects of these prevention efforts start to reverse."
Do sit down with your children, whether you think they know anything about vaping yet or not, to talk about this dangerous trend that they may see around school, especially if they're in high school. Even if they have no idea what you're talking about, it's worth seeding the topic early to help them understand the health risks that come with vaping or Juuling, and how the short-term, trendy action could come with varied long-term consequences.