Health officials warn of teens using new “Juul” e-cigarettes

Posted at 10:23 PM, Mar 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-30 22:52:08-04

WEST MICHIGAN, Mich.-- An alarming trend among young people has health officials concerned. With more teens experimenting with e-cigarettes, there's a new device called a "Juul" on the rise. Some teens are bringing them to school and even using them in class.

Health officials say vaping is one of the biggest threats to teen health right now. Many teens think it's safer to smoke e-cigarettes, but those same officials say it's most definitely not.

"Juuling is kind of the new latest and greatest thing that's out there that we've heard a lot about over the past week," said Dr. Lisa Lowery, adolescent medicine specialist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. "The concern about the juul is that it looks very similar to a USB post."

It's a discreet type of e-cigarette that much resembles a USB stick. It can be charged through a computer or USB port.

"It's become very popular," said Lowery. "I think a lot of people are under the impression that it's safer than cigarette smoking, especially our young adults and teenagers. It's not really."

Doctor Lisa Lowery is the section chief of adolescent medicine at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. She says one juul pod contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, or 200 puffs.

"It's not just a safer nicotine," said Lowery.

Lowery says the juuls are making their way into schools with some students even sneaking puffs during class.

"Some of the vape products are targeting younger people, so they'll have like cool flavors like fruit medley and creme brulee and cool mint and things like that," said Lowery. "But the thought is they may be actually targeting young people or even tweens because the thought is it's not smoking so it's safe."

Many vape shops around town sell juuls and you can even buy a starter kit online for about 50 dollars. Lowery suggests parents talk to their kids about it and ask them if they know what it is or if they've ever used one.

"You have to ask our young people," said Lowery. "You can't just ask them how's it going, you need to ask if they're smoking cigarettes or vaping or smoking marijuana. You almost have to list those things out because if you don't ask them they won't tell you."

Many schools around the country are being proactive to protect their students by sending letters home to parents about it. One district in Pennsylvania even banned USB sticks in schools because they look so much like juuls they don't want to take the risk.