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With Juuls and similar devices being marketed in ways that appeal to teens, will we see issues of e-cigarette product liability in the future?
Strawberry Cotton Candy e-cigarettes? If you have a child in high school or middle school, Juuling is probably part of their world. You aren’t alone if you don’t know much about this dangerous device, which looks like a USB drive and is marketed as a safe alternative to smoking. In reality, a Juul “pod,” which comes in 8 candy-like flavors, can contain as much nicotine as 1 to 2 packs of cigarettes. And Juuling isn’t dangerous just because of the addictive properties of its nicotine content. The vaping liquid used in the device is packed with chemicals and possible carcinogens. Teens who vape have higher levels of the same dangerous chemicals found in traditional cigarettes in their bodies than do teens who don’t vape. While many kids think that Juuling isn’t harmful, the facts show otherwise, and adults and kids alike need to be educated on the health dangers of this little device.
Juuling is a particularly difficult problem for parents and school administrators because a Juul doesn’t look like other e-cigarettes or a traditional cigarette. A Juul creates a small and easy-to-conceal puff of smoke or water vapor when it is used, which means some kids are using them in class without detection. Schools are scrambling to find ways to keep kids from Juuling on school property, even going so far as removing bathroom stall doors at Yorktown High School in Arlington.
One of the biggest public-health hurdles for those seeking to spread the word about the risks of Juuling could be Juuling’s “cool” factor—the same invisible social force that propped up traditional cigarette-smoking in our popular culture for so many years. Juuling posts abound on social media, and the device has become a staple at teen parties. And with Juuls and similar devices being marketed in ways that appeal to teens, will we see issues of e-cigarette product liability in the future?
E-cigarette manufacturers argue that vaping is a useful tool when it comes to helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes, but many child health advocates worry that the price of hooking a whole new generation on nicotine and exposing them to harmful chemicals is just too high. The question that will likely take years to answer is whether e-cigarettes will ultimately be viewed as having helped save lives by making it easier for people to stop smoking traditional cigarettes —or if they will be the devices responsible for a massive new public health crisis among young people as they Juul and vape in increasingly large numbers? Are the creators and manufacturers of these e-cigarettes going to be held liable down the line for making their products so appealing to young people? Only time will tell. In the meantime, educate yourself—and your kids—about the health risks of vaping.