The good news over the past several years is that fewer people, including children, are smoking cigarettes. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cigarettes remain the leading cause of preventable deaths. In the U.S., they contribute to 480,000 deaths annually.
The bad news is that cigarettes are not the only form of nicotine use. In fact, while cigarette has steadily declined, e-cigarette use has skyrocketed. The rise is particularly troublesome because so much of it has taken place among the nation’s youth.
9 reasons to talk to your child about vaping and Juul
Since December 20, 2019, federal law has banned the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. In Louisiana, it is illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under 18. However, as any parent could tell you, the laws are one thing, and the practical realities are another. Young people have gotten their hands on alcohol for ages, and they’ll find ways to access their tobacco as well. Accordingly, parents should understand the dangers of vaping so that they can discuss them with their kids.
Some of the key points to consider include:
- The American Lung Association reports that, from 2011 to 2019, e-cigarette use rose by staggering numbers. Middle school use rose by 1650 percent, and high school use rose by 1733 percent.
- There are different forms of e-cigarettes. The most popular among school children is the Juul brand. In a survey, 58% of students who vape said they regularly use Juul.
- Vaping manufacturers appeal to youth through the sale of flavored products, and 69% of users said they used flavored e-cigarettes.
- Juul e-cigarettes bear an uncanny resemblance to USB flash drives. Some other e-cigarettes resemble other household objects, such as pens.
- As the CDC notes, e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is addictive and can disrupt brain development. The human brain develops until approximately age 25. Memory formation requires physical connections in the brain, and nicotine interferes with the way those connections form.
- The Juul brand of e-cigarette appears designed to get people addicted to nicotine. Just one Juul pod holds as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes. Nicotine salts in the pod make it easier to inhale the vapors. Juul is one of only a few manufacturers to use these nicotine salts.
- Despite the fact Juul pods contain and deliver so much nicotine, many users are unaware they’re consuming the drug. Two-thirds of users ages 15 to 24 claim they didn’t know Juul always contains nicotine.
- There’s more to e-cigarettes than nicotine. The aerosol used to deliver the nicotine can contain heavy metals, carcinogenic chemicals and ultrafine sediments that can damage the lungs. Chemicals used as flavoring may also be toxic.
- E-cigarettes can cause serious, traumatic damage. By February 18, 2020, the CDC had reported 2,807 serious injuries related to vaping. These included hospitalizations and 68 deaths.
The short version of the story is that e-cigarettes can be dangerous. There’s a widespread perception that e-cigarettes are less harmful and dangerous than normal cigarettes. Still, they share many of the same problems, and your child should know about the risks. When two-thirds of young users say they don’t know that e-cigs contain nicotine, it’s safe to imagine they don’t understand the other risks, either.
Did Juul and other manufacturers target your child?
As cigarette manufacturers watched their sales base start to dry up, Juul and other e-cigarette manufacturers appear to have targeted children. They delivered their nicotine with flavors like mango, mint and crème, which appealed to school age children. They knew children were using their devices. And as Reuters reports, they actively decided not to limit the amount of nicotine their devices could deliver.
Instead, the evidence suggests Juul prioritized its profits and market share at the expense of the children who suffered. While more and more children became addicted, Juul’s profits and market share rose sharply. So did the number of school children who reported using e-cigarettes.
Internal documents show Juul knew they were selling to children. They just didn’t care. You don’t have to accept that.