This E-Cigarette Looks Like a Thumb Drive: Is Your Kid Partaking?

Trendy new vaping system on college campuses and high schools nationwide has doctors and parents worried

With vaping on the rise, parents are worrying about “Juuling,” a trendy new vape system that’s becoming popular on college campuses and high schools.

According to a new report in Women’s Health, the Juul is so small, students can plug them into their laptops for a charge while passing them off as flash drives.

Juuling is described in the University of Illinois’ independent student newspaper as an epidemic “sweeping across campus.”

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But Juul pods and other e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, according to the American Lung Association. The organization points out that “Nicotine is an addictive substance that can have negative health impacts, including on adolescent brain development.”

Dr. Donna Shelley, director of NYU Langone Medical Center’s Tobacco Cessation Program, told Fox News: “The effect on the brain is concerning because we don’t want them developing an addiction, and then there’s some neuropsychiatric concern that they would be more likely to use other drugs and develop some mental health issues.”

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Shelley explained how vaping is a safer alternative to combustible tobacco. “Like methadone is a form of harm reduction for heroine, you’re still getting your nicotine, but getting it safely,” she said.

The Juul Labs website states that the company “strongly” condemns the use of their product by underage users. “It is in fact illegal to sell our product to minors,” they warn.

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Other facts mentioned on the website include that one Juul vaporizer contains 5 percent nicotine by weight — or “200 puffs” — while most other e-cigarettes and vapes contain anywhere from 0.03 percent to 1.8 percent nicotine.

Dr. Shelley described how “Nicotine binds to receptors in the brain, which leads to the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters that can basically make people feel better.”

She added, “I don’t worry about smokers using e-cigarettes — it’s kids who are naïve about nicotine. They might puff and smoke so much until they get nicotine toxicity.”

A recent study from the University of Washington found “substantial” evidence that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try cigarettes.

Juul pods are available at convenience stores and online to those who are 21 years old or older, but according to the Journal Sentinel underage students find ways to get the product.

Danielle Foster, a 15-year-old high school student from Milwaukee, said plenty of her classmates Juul in the bathroom at her school. “I see a lot of people using them and teachers don’t know how to look for them,” Foster said. “They [Juul users] think it’s better than smoking weed or cigarettes.”

A recent study from the University of Washington found “substantial” evidence that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try cigarettes.

As of now, there are no long-term studies on the health consequences of e-cigarettes and little consensus on whether they are effective in helping smokers quit, according to the report.

Lindsay Carlton contributed to this Fox News piece, which is used by permission.

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