Eagle County health and schools: Kids and Juuls: What you need to know about this new form of vaping (column)
Over the past school year, local communities across the country have witnessed a surge in popularity of a particular vaping device — the Juul. This electronic device vaporizes and delivers the nicotine equivalent of a full pack of cigarettes in just one pod of flavorful “juice.”
Human brain development continues until age 25, and studies have found that nicotine use during adolescence and young adulthood has been associated with lasting brain impairments, including effects on working memory and attention.
And although nicotine appears to create a sense of calm for many users, it is responsible for increased anxiety, difficulty concentrating and depression in youth. Research suggests that when nicotine is layered with flavoring compounds (which are known to be appealing to youth), there are additional health concerns (bronchiolitis obliterans, increase in blood pressure, increased heart rate, seizures and more) that professionals are becoming more concerned with.
When heated to high temperatures and inhaled, these flavoring chemicals are directly ingested into the lungs and bloodstream of the user, impacting the user’s body and brain significantly.
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Creative and effective marketing has created a subculture of Juul users, a quarter of whom don’t consider their Juul use as “vaping” or “e-cig use” but instead as “Juuling” (Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids).
Our youth should not be using any tobacco-derived product, including electronic vape devices, as the Surgeon General concluded: “The use of products containing nicotine poses dangers to youth, pregnant women and fetuses. The use of products containing nicotine in any form among youth, including in e-cigarettes, is unsafe” (Surgeon General’s Report 2016).
Local middle and high school youth have been receiving preventative education on the dangers of using these products. If you are a parent, coach, clergy or other trusted adult in a young person’s life, then please check out these resource for more information on vaping and youth:
• Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, tobacco freekids.org
• Colorado Office of Behavioral Health, speak nowcolorado.org
• U.S. Deptartment of Health and Human Services, e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov
• Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, tobaccofreeco.org
• American Lung Association, lung.org
Also, encourage youth who may be addicted and are ready to quit to speak with their health care provider about their options. The Colorado Quitline (1-800-QUITNOW or coquitline.org) offers free counseling support to anyone older than 16.
Mandy Ivanov, MPH, is the health promotion coordinator for Eagle County Public Health & Environment. Candace Eves is the prevention specialist for Eagle County Schools.