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Juul: Nicotine Is For Teens Once More

There’s a good chance that you’re at least a little familiar with a growing trend called “vaping.” Vaping takes pure nicotine, puts it in water rather than dry leaves and paper, and then adds a few other ingredients to preserve it, activate it once it reaches your lungs, and flavor it so it tastes good when it passes through your mouth. You put the liquid in a vaping device, you suck on the opening, and this draws the liquid past a heating element that vaporizes it so you can breathe it in.

The Growth Of Vaping

Smokeless tobacco has been a goal of the industry for decades. Chewing tobacco has been around for a long time, but it colors your teeth and produces ugly brown spit, plus it can lead to oral cancer. Nicotine gum and patches work, but they aren’t as effective as cigarettes. Vapor has been considered for decades, but it was only recently that companies developed vaping devices that work automatically and without any settings the user has to worry about.

The current market leader is the Juul, created by Stanford startup. The device looks more like a flash drive than a cigarette, and you can even recharge the battery by plugging it into a USB port. In fact, it’s so ubiquitous that the product’s name has become a synonym for vaping. The company also sells liquid pods to refill the Juul, but it’s not hard for third parties to create pods with their own mixtures inside.

The High School Craze

Nicotine is a drug that offers a small amount of stress relief, just the thing to get you through a hard day at work or the next set of tough classes. Between that and the fact that the Juul is a new fad, it’s started showing up at high schools in wealthy neighborhoods throughout the country, and that includes southwest Florida.

However, nicotine is also highly addictive. It doesn’t take too long to develop a nicotine dependence, and while dependence and addiction aren’t the same thing, it’s not hard for one to lead into the other. Addiction is particularly dangerous for adolescents, because the developing brain of a teenager can develop a lifelong addiction much more easily than an adult brain.

Fortunately, pure nicotine is much less dangerous than tobacco smoke, but there are still problems. The flavor additives are approved for use in food, but not for breathing in. The constant vapor in your lungs can make pneumonia more likely. And no matter how harmless the subject of an addiction is, it has a nasty effect on your wallet.

Who’s To Blame?

The company that sells Juul doesn’t intentionally sell to kids. They only let you access their website if you’re 21 or older, and they’ll check your credentials when you place an order. However, older people have been buying cigarettes and alcohol for high schoolers since stores first started checking IDs, and it’s no different with Juul and other vaping products. It’s especially easy thanks to sites like eBay where you can sell vape products to whoever pays the most, and while Juul shuts them down when they find them there’s nothing they can do about in-person sales.

Other companies are less scrupulous about who they sell to, but partly that’s because the FDA is dragging their feet when it comes to vaping. The regulators only classified nicotine vaping as a tobacco product in 2016, and companies don’t have to comply with regulations until 2022. Since vaping is so new, there also aren’t many studies on its long-term effects, so any suit lodged against these companies would be on shaky ground, at least for now.

If you have a teenage child of your own, your best bet for keeping them away from vaping and nicotine addiction is education. Let them know about the long-term costs and the risks of addiction, and teach them other, safer ways to relieve stress. Juuling might be safer than cigarette smoking, but the safest choice is to avoid nicotine entirely.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

Juul:  Nicotine Is For Teens Once More

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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