It doesn’t look like a cigarette. Rather, it looks like a perfectly harmless USB stick and can, in fact, be charged with any USB port. It doesn’t always smell like a typical cigarette either. It comes in tantalising flavours like cool mint, fruit medley and crème brulee. The Juul is an e-cigarette which is so discreet that the ‘smoke’ or vapour can actually be hidden in a sleeve.
What is it?
The device itself is a long, slim vaporiser that comes with disposal pods containing nicotine juice. The juice is heated to create the vapour users inhale. While the online presence of the company emphasises that this device is meant for adults only and claims to use sophisticated software to ensure that those who purchase the device and/or pods are at least 21, in reality, these are falling into the hands of young people at an alarming rate.
Why should parents be worried?
It is easy to think that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because they don’t burn tobacco and release carcinogens. However, the fact is, juul pods contain as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. As a result, these are highly addictive particularly for young brains that are still developing. Long term consequences could include behaviour changes, difficulty with concentration and memory, learning problems, as well as respiratory and other health problems. Added to this, some are filling their pods with other substances, including marijuana, which makes this even more dangerous.
What can parents do?
Communication is always important. Pay attention to behaviour changes, increased thirst, sensitivity to caffeine, nosebleeds and even change in how your teenager smells (remember the ‘sweet’ pods can mean that your child can come home smelling like cotton candy). These can all be signs of juul use.
Talk to your children about cigarettes and e-cigarettes. You can begin by asking a non-threatening question like: “I read this article about juul. What have you heard about it?” Listen to what they say. Share your concerns about the risks. If you find out that your child has tried it, tell them you do not approve and seek to replace this behaviour with something positive.
Remember, e-cigarettes contain something more than fun flavours and the consequences can be lasting. Conversation is always essential to help establish trust and provide the tools needed so our children can thrive!
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