In December 2018, the dramatic rise in e-cigarette use among youth compelled the U.S. Surgeon General to declare a nationwide epidemic. In 2018, nearly 25% of Florida’s high school students reported current use of e-cigarettes. This is a drastic increase of 57% over the previous year. In comparison, only 4% of Florida adults vape. Indian River students’ exposure to secondhand vapor, their current use of ENDS, and the rate of students that have ever tried ENDS are all higher than the State’s average rates. Accurate information about youth vaping needs to reach every resident, especially adults who can share information with youth. Electronic Nicotine Dispensing Systems, (ENDS) come in all shapes and sizes. A variety of styles include refillables with liquid nicotine “juices”, disposables that look like traditional cigarettes, and products that use disposable cartridges.
ENDS contain batteries that heat a liquid solution, producing an aerosol that is inhaled. It is not ‘water vapor’ because the liquid is not water. Nearly all products contain nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals. It’s no coincidence that flavors are used by the industry to appeal directly to adolescents and teens. Although approved by the FDA for ingestion, the liquids like glycerin and propylene glycol, are not approved for inhalation, and may be in many e-cigarette products.
Juul is the most popular ENDS brand among youth. It quickly captured 72% of the e-cigarette market, perhaps fueled by the rapid rise of youth vaping. Juul uses a disposable pod that contains propylene glycol, avorings, benzoic acid and nicotine salts. Nicotine salts allow high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation. Juul contains a higher amount of nicotine than cigarettes and other e-cigarette products. Nicotine exposure can harm adolescents’ developing brains by interfering with parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control. Youth are especially vulnerable to the effects because brains continue developing until the mid-20s. The nicotine from one Juul pod is like smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes. The U.S. Surgeon General warned that despite these risks, approximately two-thirds of JUUL users aged 15-24 do not know that Juul always contains nicotine.
Juul is shaped like a USB ash drive making it easy to conceal, easy to charge, and easy to use at school. Using nicotine in adolescence may increase risk for future addiction to other drugs. Long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are unknown. Early research suggests that youth who use e-cigarettes may be at greater risk of starting to smoke regular cigarettes.
Tobacco industry giant Altria, a corporate parent of Phillip Morris, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, bought a 35% stake in Juul for 12.8 BILLION dollars in 2019. For more information, please visit tobaccofreeflorida.com/eepidemic.