Electronic cigarette glamorizes unhealthy habit

By Travis Greer and Ernest Watts - Healthy Carolinians
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It’s a flash drive. It’s a portable charger. It’s a JUUL.

A JUUL is an e-cigarette highly concentrated with nicotine, known for its sleek look and the powerful buzz it gives. JUULs were first introduced about two years ago by two Stanford design program graduates, and they have been growing in popularity ever since. It is one of the hottest e-cigarettes on the market. The device represented 27 percent of dollar market share of the total e-cigarette category for the four weeks that ended Sept. 9, 2017, according to Nielsen data. JUUL devices are flat and rectangular and are about as long as a palm of a hand.

They’re thinner than an iPhone and weigh even less. They were constructed to avoid detection on the campuses of tobacco free colleges and public schools. Users snap on a cartridge with nicotine liquid, which uses nicotine extracted from tobacco. To activate them, users simply draw on the end after charging the device on a laptop computer. JUUL prices can vary based on location, although they tend to sell at a premium compared with other e-cigarettes.

Online, a JUUL device costs $34.99, and a four-pack of pods costs $15.99. There are five different flavors of the JUUL pod cartridges – mango, cool mint, Virginia tobacco, fruit medley, and crème bruleé. Travis Greer, Regional Youth Tobacco Prevention Coordinator states “the use of JUUL and its flavors glamorizes the use of tobacco and appeals to youth and young adults.” One of these pods roughly contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, according to the JUUL website. Each JUUL pod contains “0.7 milliliters with 5 percent nicotine by weight, which is a lot more nicotine than it may sound” according to Ernest Watts Regional Tobacco Prevention Lead.

Nearly all, e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm the developing brain. According to a report from the Surgeon General on E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults, no amount of nicotine is safe for youth and young adults. Because the brain is still developing until age 25, youth and young adult exposure to nicotine can lead to addiction and disrupt attention and learning.

According to the North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey, nearly one in seven of North Carolina high school students who tried e-cigarettes have never smoked a cigarette. A growing body of evidence from multiple countries shows that young people who have never smoked cigarettes, but currently use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future than are young people who do not use e-cigarettes. “The marketplace seems to be one step ahead in trying to entice young people to a lifelong addiction to tobacco,” according to Watts.

According to the CDC website, cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths due to tobacco usage.

Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, and firearm-related incidents. More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States. Smoking causes about 90 percent (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer. Smoking causes about 80 percent (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cigarette smoking increases risk for death from all causes in men and women.

Travis Greer is part of a new regional program with the responsibility of implementing effective youth tobacco prevention interventions. Greer may be contacted at 910-880-0693 or emailed at [email protected] Greer and Watts value partnerships and coalitions like Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians who offer a supporting role in engaging and educating Sampson County residents on evidence-based tobacco prevention and control policies and programs. The mission of Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians is to improve the health and quality of life for Sampson County citizens. For more information on the coalition, visit www.scpfhc.org or call 910-592-1131 ext. 4240.

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By Travis Greer and Ernest Watts

Healthy Carolinians