WHAT IS JUULING, AND WHAT ATTRACTS KIDS TO IT?
JUUL is the e-cigarette trend that’s taking over the market. It’s become so popular that, like “Xerox,” people frequently use the brand name to describe the product’s functions. In Texas, the “genuine” JUUL is sold only to people age 18 and up, and the official JUUL website clearly states, “Our product is intended for adult smokers who want to switch from combustible cigarettes… It is illegal to sell or resell our product to minors,” but that hasn’t stopped underage users from getting their hands on it.
Among the most common reasons kids give for trying JUULing or other forms of vaping is the “flavoring” — in other words, it tastes good. Unlike the tobacco-heavy mixes used in traditional cigarettes, e-cigarette liquids are easy to make in just about every flavor you can imagine. According to the American Lung Institute, vapes come in up to 7,700 flavors.
Here are some of the most popular flavors:
- Crème brulee
- Bubble gum
- Froot Loops
Flavorings like these were one of the ways Big Tobacco worked to appeal to children in the past, which is why flavored cigarettes are banned by the federal government. Don’t let flavorings like this get your child hooked on nicotine.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR CHILD IS AT RISK
If you’re a parent, know the signs of possible juuling/vaping:
- Increased secretive attitude
- Trying to conceal small rectangular or tubelike gadgets. (If your child develops a new habit of chewing on pens, insist on examining the pen personally.)
- “Fruity” smells without an obvious source.
- Bloodshot eyes.
- Increased consumption of water or other liquids (indicating “dry mouth”).
- Increased use of cologne, breath mints or mouthwash (possible attempts to cover smell from flavored vapors or vaped marijuana).
- Increased sensitivity to caffeine.
- Signs of developing nicotine dependence: frequent snacking, changes in sleep patterns, irritability, coughing.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to have a serious talk with your child. Don’t open with accusations, and don’t rummage through your child’s things seeking further evidence: state forthrightly what concerns you and why, and listen to the answer. Quitting JUULing (or stronger drugs) isn’t easy, so be prepared to work as a team to solve the problem, preferably with the help of a doctor and a licensed counselor.
And to minimize the risk of a JUULing problem developing in the first place:
- Don’t vape (or smoke) yourself! If you have a spouse or partner who’s unwilling to give up the habit, at least insist that vaporizers and liquids be kept where the kids can’t easily “borrow” them.
- Talk honestly with your kids about the health dangers of nicotine, including addiction—and make sure they know most e-cigarette liquids do contain nicotine.
- Emphasize respecting the law—including minimum-age laws for buying vaping products.
- Ask your kids to educate you on vaping and other drug trends in their peer groups.
- Remember that understanding, attentive parents are every family’s best defense against teenage problems of all kinds.