Poison Center warning for parents

Published 11:34 am Wednesday, September 5, 2018

As students head back to school, The Blue Ridge Poison Center at the University of Virginia Health System is raising awareness about a popular device that could leave teens exposed to — and perhaps addicted to — nicotine.

According to a press release, “The JUUL (pronounced “jewel”) is a sleek, slim brand of electronic cigarette designed to look like a computer flash drive. It has a battery which is rechargeable in a USB port. JUUL use has skyrocketed by 800 percent since 2011; it is by far the most popular vaping device used by teens. In fact, the latest Youth Risk Behavior Study from the CDC found that more teens are using vaping products than smoking conventional cigarettes.”

Why is the JUUL so popular with teens? The tiny device is easy to conceal. The vapor disappears almost immediately and the odor does not linger.

Why should parents, teachers and health officials be concerned about teen JUUL use? A study performed by Truth Initiative (www.truthinitiative.org) found that more than half of teen JUUL users falsely believe the product does not contain nicotine. But each JUUL pod contains liquid that is 5 percent nicotine, and lasts for “about 200 puffs,” according to the manufacturer, which is equivalent to one pack of 20 conventional cigarettes. JUUL users may not realize that they are being exposed to so much nicotine. The release went on to note, “There are many health concerns: The teen brain is particularly vulnerable to addiction, and nicotine is highly addictive. Nicotine has a negative impact on adolescent brain development. Long-term exposure to nicotine may affect teens’ behavior, concentration, memory and their ability to learn. Young people who vape are more likely to smoke conventional cigarettes in the future.In high doses, nicotine exposure can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and even seizures and death.”

“Very young children could be at risk if a teen’s JUUL is left within reach. Swallowing liquid nicotine is a potentially serious poisoning; as little as 1 teaspoon could be life-threatening for a small child, the release cited.”

Parents are encouraged to have a conversation with their teen about JUUL use and the dangers of nicotine. Download the free Talk With Your Teen About E-cigarettes tip sheet for parents from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit www.cdc.gov, then type JUUL in the search bar.

If anyone is experiencing health effects after exposure to a JUUL or any other vaping device, contact the Blue Ridge Poison Control for immediate, free, expert advice at (800) 222-1222.