There are many teens and young adults who use JUUL®, a small vape or e-cigarette device. In this handout, you will learn the dangers of JUUL®. You will also learn how to prevent your students from “JUULing” and how to help if they do use JUUL®.

What is JUUL®?

JUUL® is a small electronic cigarette (also called a vape pen or e-cigarette) with a cartridge on the end. The cartridge (also called a JUULpod®) contains liquid nicotine, benzoic acid, and other chemicals that turn into fine particles when inhaled into the lungs. The benzoic acid and nicotine in a JUULpod® are more concentrated than a typical e-cigarette cartridge. Because of these chemicals, nicotine levels in the blood can be higher than those from cigarettes.

A full JUUL® device. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Winickoff, MD, MPH.

 

How Common is JUUL® and Vaping Among Teens and Young Adults?

JUUL is very common among teens and young adults. About 2 out of every 10 high school students in Massachusetts vape. By senior year, almost 3 out of every 10 vape. Teens who vape are 4 times more likely to begin using traditional tobacco products (such as cigarettes) later in life.

Why is JUUL® Especially Dangerous For Teens and Young Adults?

There are many reasons why JUUL® is especially dangerous for teens and young adults. The most important reason is that the teen and young adult brain is very sensitive to nicotine.

Nicotine changes the way the brain works over time by forming addictive pathways. These pathways make people crave nicotine. The younger a teen starts smoking or vaping, the harder it will be to quit. Some teens can become addicted to the amount of nicotine in just half of a JUULpod®.

What are the Other Health Risks of JUUL®?

The other health risks of JUUL® include:

  • Asthma
  • Eosinophilic pneumonitis (unable to breath due to swelling of the lung)
  • Various cancers caused by chemicals, such as N-Nitrosonornicotine
  • Long-term changes in how the brain works (such as creating addictive pathways in which the brain craves nicotine and other illegal drugs)

How Can I Prevent My Students From Using JUUL® or Other Tobacco Products?

Here are tips to help you prevent your students from using JUUL® or other tobacco products:

  • Teach about the harms of vaping. Nicotine is not only a bad habit but it also a drug of abuse. Many health classes mention vaping, but do not treat it seriously. Nicotine is the most common drugs used by high school students.
  • Talk about the science behind early nicotine use and how it can be used as a gateway to future drug use. Many vape products can be used to vape marijuana. Talk about how tobacco company ads and promotions can make teens more likely to vape.
  • Do not show images from the tobacco industry. These may encourage students to engage in the behaviors you are trying to prevent. Instead, share different messages, narratives and images created by researchers to discourage teens vape pen use.
  • Enact a tobacco-free zone around all schools that includes all vape products.
  • Encourage your local Board of Health to enforce tobacco 21 regulations.
  • Publicize your zero-tolerance policy for vaping. Include treatment in your zero-tolerance policy for vaping. If a student is caught vaping, treat it as an offense like drinking or using other drugs on campus. Get help for students who are currently addicted by working with your school nurse or counselors.
  • Be on the lookout for other vape products. Suorin®, Phix®, Lava® and BO® are other popular brands with teens.

How Can I Prevent Vaping in My Community?

Here are tips you can use to help prevent vaping in your community:

  • Ask your town or city’s Board of Health to strictly enforce the new Tobacco 21 law (a law that makes it illegal retailers to sell to those under age 21). Ask if the Board of Health compliance checks each store that sells tobacco at least 4 times per year.
  • If you notice any stores selling tobacco products to those under age 21, report it to the Attorney General’s office by calling 617-727-8400.
  • Encourage your local Board of Health to increase fines for selling to those under 21:
    • First offense selling tobacco products to those under age 21: $1000 fine and one week suspension of the store’s tobacco retail license.
    • Second or third offense: Revocation of the store’s tobacco retail license for increasing periods of time and fines of $2000-3000
  • Urge your local Board of Health to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol. That is saving hundreds of kids from tobacco addiction in those towns.

Did You Know...?

Nicotine use can lead to common mood disorders in teens and young adults, such as anxiety or depression. All vape devices have some nicotine, even if the label says it does not contain nicotine.

Did You Know...?

A single store that sells tobacco products to those under 21 can supply an entire high school. It is never okay to push tobacco products on children and teens to turn a profit.

Tobacco companies know that if teens and young adults begin using their products before age 21, it is more likely they will have a lifelong customer. Almost all adult tobacco users started using before age 21.

Rev. 2/2019. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.