It seems that every year, teens and young adults have a new drug form, a new way to get high, and a whole new brand of lingo and slang to go along with it. Parents race to keep up, to protect their kids from the latest drug trend that sweeps through schools and colleges. Case in point, as recent as the end of 2017, a new recreational, smoking-related trend emerged, the trend of “juuling.”
So what, exactly, is juuling? Juuling is the verb tense of using a new type of vaporizer called a “Juul.” What has parents so mystified is that juuls are technically legal, simply a new and exciting form of vaporizers. So what is the big risk? What is the big concern attached to juuling?
Well, for starters, according to media reports, a significant percentage of those who are juuling are kids and teenagers under the age of eighteen. When kids under the age of eighteen take part in juuling, they are putting even more nicotine into their bodies than they would from smoking cigarettes.
Unlike vaping, the more recognized method of using vaporizers, juul e-cigarettes use cartridges which can be swapped out easily. This makes them even more easy to use, requires less maintenance, and allows the user to smoke them consistently with no breaks. According to Wells Fargo research data, juul vaping made up for about thirty-three percent of the e-cigarette market by the end of 2017. Needless to say, the trend is growing, and rapidly too.
Because juuling is marketed as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, the nicotine drug was quickly made legal, and it rose rapidly to popularity as a result. But, in a strange turn of events, the substance became by far the most popular amongst teens, tweens, adolescents, and young adults, not adult smokers who were trying to quit the drug. Juuling is becoming even more popular than vaping amongst underage students because juuls make less smoke, are smaller, and are easier to hide and use more discreetly.
According to Ashley Gould, the chief administrative officer at Juul Labs who spoke in defense of their products:
While many users tout juuling and vaping as being miracle cures to cigarette addiction, cures that have “zero negative health implications,” that is actually not true. Far from it in fact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while e-cigarette products contain fewer toxins than traditional cigarettes do, vaping and juuling can still expose the user to cancer-causing chemicals.
Unfortunately, because juuling and vaping are both legal and widely believed to be miracle cures to cigarette addiction, the products are very easy to get and use, even amongst underage individuals. The CDC has gone on to indicate that, when underage people juul or vape, it opens them up to greater risk of actual drug use later on in life. The logic here is that a teen or young adult who is using something, some kind of substance, if they are getting some kind of physiological or psychological effect from it, they are going to be predisposed to more of that type of activity later on in life.
The rise of juuling is a reminder that abstinence, total restraint from any kind of substance use, is truly the only way to be guaranteed sobriety. To use something so as not to use something else is still going to have negative connotations and risks associated with it.
While it is difficult to discern the long-term health implications of juuling and vaping because the trends are so new, Dr. Michael Ong, associate professor of general internal medicine and health services at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, does believe that there are some risks involved:
Juuling and vaping are so new that we cannot even say whether or not such habits are truly able to help people quit smoking. Research data actually shows that the majority of people who partake in juuling and vaping also smoke cigarettes in tandem. The individuals who have quit smoking thanks to juuling or vaping are actually the minority of the total number of individuals who use such products.
According to a new study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine, smokers who try to quit smoking cigarettes by using e-cigarette products like juuls or vaporizers have less structure than smokers who use other methods, hence a higher relapse rate back to cigarettes. Dr. Ong went on in his interview to mention that smokers who want to quit should seek professional help for the exact right program, tailored to them directly.
In a lot of ways, the mass production of products like juuls and vaporizers seems to cause just as many problems as they solve, especially considering the fact that teens and underage adolescents are so interested in these products. Such products are not a perfect solution, as they don’t promote total freedom from nicotine, and as they are getting adolescents hooked.