In 2003, the first commercially successful electronic cigarette debuted in China. Today, millions of consumers regularly use ENDS, especially, e-cigarettes. Juul e-cigarettes, apparently created to help adult smokers quit smoking more easily, are now the most popular “vaping device” among teens and young adults.
While the vast majority of adults can’t identify a Juul and report they’ve never tried one, the same can’t be said about most teens. Studies suggest that Juul devices and “vaping” can lead to problems with brain development, lung damage, increased risk for high blood pressure, and increased risk for nicotine/smoking addiction.
In the U.S, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now regulates the manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale, and distribution of ENDS (and other tobacco products). In 2018, the FDA announced plans to change the way e-cigarettes, including Juuls, were marketed and sold. For example, new regulations mean that all e-cigarettes/ENDS cannot be sold to anyone under 18, or without a health warning statement on the package.
The FDA’s move came on the heels of some startling new statistics: e-cigarette use among high-school and middle-school kids rose from 77 percent and 50 percent, respectively, from 2017 to 2018. The estimates show that more than 3.5 million minors vaped at least once in 2018. Recent changes in regulations are intended to make the risks of e-cigs more apparent, and also to make them more difficult to buy, especially for adolescents.
What Is a Juul?
If you don’t yet know much about e-cigarettes, you’re probably wondering, “What is a Juul vape, and what does Juuling mean?”
Some of the many terms used to describe electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) include: vapes, vaporizers, vape pens, hookah pens, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or e-cigs), and e-pipes.
A Juul is a type of e-cigarette (short for electronic cigarette). According to the National Cancer Institute, it’s “a device that has the shape of a cigarette, cigar or pen and does not contain tobacco. It uses a battery and contains a solution of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals, some of which may be harmful.”
Juuling is a type of vaping, another way to describe the use of e-cigarettes that causes a nicotine solution to turn into an inhalable mist. E-cigarettes like Juuls contain heated nicotine extracted from tobacco, but they don’t contain tobacco itself.
A 2017 survey conducted by the Schroeder Institute at Truth Initiative found that 25 percent of teens aged 15 to 17 and 29 percent of young adults aged 18 to 24 recognized a Juul device. Between 10 and 12 percent reported both recognizing and having ever used a JUUL, and 8 to 10 percent reported recognition and past 30-day use. Overall, the survey found that young adults aged 18 to 24, especially males, were most likely to recognize and use Juuls regularly.
Juul Labs first released Juuls in 2015, stating that the company’s mission was to “eliminate cigarettes and help the more than one billion smokers worldwide switch to a better alternative.” But while Juuls may be intended to serve as part of a “harm reduction strategy” — a public health strategy that intends to reduce the negative effects of addictive substances, including nicotine/tobacco — there’s evidence that Juuls may be doing more harm than good.
Experts on the dangers of nicotine tell us: “It is not yet known whether electronic cigarettes are safe or if they can be used to help smokers quit smoking.” There’s still debate over whether Juul devices and other similar products offer more benefits to smokers than they cause harm. What we do know is that evidence suggests they aren’t totally harmless, especially when used by teens or young adults or for long periods of time.
Juuling vs. Vaping
How much nicotine does a Juul contain, and how does this compare to other e-cigarettes?
The amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes can vary. Juul devices come with a preset five percent nicotine content, similar to the amount found in cigarettes. Each nicotine cartridge inserted into the Juul (called a pod) gives about 200 puffs, providing about as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, according to the product’s website.
Juuls might not contain tobacco, but they deliver nicotine as efficiently as a combustible product (for instance, a cigarette). They cause nicotine to reach the lungs, affect the brain and can potentially increase the risk for nicotine addiction.