HELENA – State health leaders are warning about the risks of an increasingly popular type of e-cigarette, especially for young people.
According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, many school leaders across the state are finding more students using Juul-brand e-cigarettes.
“We really want to make people aware of the risk that Juul poses to youth,” said Nicole Aune, manager of DPHHS’ Tobacco Use Prevention Program.
DPHHS pointed to research from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing that Juul sales increased by more than 600% in just one year and that many of those sales likely ended up in the hands of youth.
Aune said Juul is attractive to young people because it’s small and easy to conceal, it looks like a USB flash drive and it comes in flavors like mango and fruit medley. The cloud of vapor it produces dissipates quickly, with less of a smell than conventional tobacco smoke.
But Aune said a single pod of Juul vaping liquid contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, and that it is a particularly easy form of nicotine to inhale.
“Youth that are using these, they’re getting exposed to a lot of nicotine, and that gets into the brain within seven to ten seconds,” she said. “They can easily become addicted to these products.”
DPHHS reports young people who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to use conventional tobacco in the future.
“This is alarming to us, because of that future risk, and the addiction that it poses to our youth,” Aune said.
Aune said many teenagers refer to “Juuling,” rather than “vaping.” According to one study, many Juul users don’t realize the products contain nicotine.
“We want parents, pediatricians and other people who are working with youth to know that nicotine is absolutely not safe for youth, in any shape or form,” said Aune.
Aune said early nicotine exposure can harm young people’s brain development.
Juul company leaders have said they are working on technology and programs to make sure their products stay out of the hands of minors.
-Jonathon Ambarian reporting for MTN News