I recently became aware of the JUUL device when a neighbor’s child was suspended from school for selling them. You may have seen one and not realized what it was because it looks like a flash drive.

The JUUL is a portable “nicotine-delivery device” designed to mimic the physical and sensory experience of a cigarette, without looking like one. The JUUL has two components: the bottom part is the device, which includes the battery and temperature regulation system, and the top part is the e-liquid cartridge that you stick into the device. The cartridge is also the mouthpiece, so you just click it into the JUUL and you’re ready to go. The JUUL device is rechargeable and comes with a USB charger that you can pop into your laptop or charging block.

One of the biggest differences between the JUUL and other e-cigarettes is that there are no settings. The device senses when you take a pull from the mouthpiece and heats up to vaporize the liquid inside. According to the manufacturer, it has special temperature-regulation technology to prevent overheating or combustion. As a result, it is supposedly less likely to burn or explode, which has been an issue with other vapes.

The e-liquid cartridges, or JUUL pods, come in a variety of flavors like cool mint, crème brulee and fruit medley, and each pod contains about as much nicotine as one pack of cigarettes. JUUL pods contain a mix of glycerol and propylene glycol, nicotine, benzoic acid, and flavorants.

While the health effects of inhaling these ingredients aren’t well-known, one thing is certain: nicotine is a highly addictive substance — and each hit of the JUUL packs quite the nicotine punch. The nicotine content is 0.7mL (or 59 mg/mL) per pod, which is approximately equivalent to one pack of cigarettes, or 200 puffs. The JUUL is a “closed system,” meaning the user doesn’t refill the e-liquid like you do with “tank systems,” or vape pens.  This is supposed to allow for more quality control.

Generally, the JUUL device costs between $35 to $50 and a package of four JUUL pods costs $15.99. At $4 a pod, that’s a bargain compared to a pack of cigarettes, which after years of hard-fought legislation and additional taxes to cover the health effects of smoking now can cost more than $10 a pack in places like New York City.

Although it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase e-cigarettes or other tobacco products, underage teens are still finding ways to get their hands on them. According to the FDA, a recent report from the CDC found that e-cigarette use rose from 1.5 to 16 percent among high school students and from .6 to 5.3 percent among middle school students from 2011 to 2015. More than two million high school and middle school students used e-cigarettes in 2016.

Since the JUUL is amazingly discreet and looks just like a flash drive, it is easy for teens to hide at school or home. There have been reports of students in the back of the classroom inhaling it and blowing it on the floor, and it’s gone. Or smokers will “ghost it,” meaning swallow the smoke so it disappears.

Kellie O’Dare, Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief, said the use of JUUL by young people is “particularly concerning” and that according to the 2017 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, more than one in three students reported trying an e-cigarette last year.

A pediatric study asked 808 students in three Connecticut high schools each year between 2013 and 2015 if they used e-cigarettes or tobacco cigarettes in the last month. The first year, 8.9 percent of students used a vape pen and 4.8 percent of students smoked cigarettes in the last month.

“Those who used e-cigarettes were seven times more likely to smoke cigarettes by the second survey, and almost four times more likely by the third survey,” said Krysten Bold, associate research scientist at Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the study. The third year of the study, 14.5 students had used a vape pen in the previous month, and 8.5 student smoked cigarettes. (JUUL didn’t enter the market until 2015.)

The JUUL is very appealing to kids and has become a gateway to smoking and other drugs. I believe it is one more reason that there needs to be more regulation with e-cigarettes.

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