Drugs & Health Blog

E-Cigs Are Risky—Whatever They Look Like

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The NIDA Blog Team

You may have heard of JUUL. It’s one brand of e-cigarette that has gotten very popular lately—so popular that the term “JUULing” is becoming common. While we usually don’t discuss brand names on the blog, some experts think the name “JUUL” might become like “Kleenex” or “Xerox”; these brands became so popular that people often use those names instead of “tissue” or “copy.”

Will “JUUL” become the new term for “e-cigs”? Whatever you call them, and whatever brand they are, there are too many unknowns about the health effects of these devices if you start using them in your teen years.

Quitting—or starting?

The company that makes JUUL says they designed the device for adults who are trying to quit smoking regular cigarettes; the company has educational programs for teens about waiting until they’re adults to use these devices. But JUUL is still being used by teens, who think teachers and other adults won’t notice because the JUUL doesn’t look like a regular e-cig.

A JUUL is a small, rectangular, box-shaped device that looks more like a flash drive than a cigarette. Like most e-cigs, they come in flavors that appeal to young people.

Different look, same danger

Teens have been hiding things like e-cigs from adults for decades. In the 1950s, they spent a lot of time trying to hide their cigarettes from adults. But once teens began to learn about the disastrous health effects of tobacco cigarettes, they stopped using them as much. Now, teens are smoking less than ever.

So, while the JUUL design may look pretty slick, don’t let it fool you: Inside, it has the same nicotine that’s in regular cigarettes. In fact, according to the manufacturer, just one JUUL “pod” (the cartridge inserted into the device) delivers about as much nicotine to the user as a whole pack of cigarettes.

Next stop, tobacco?

There’s also evidence that many teens using e-cigs switch to regular cigarettes, sometimes within just a few months. Remember: You can get addicted to nicotine, and regular cigarettes deliver it to the body more efficiently than e-cigs do. Inhaling the tobacco smoke from cigarettes leads to horrible diseases and death.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about how using e-cigs (which don’t contain actual tobacco) will affect your health. But if you’re a teen, the government won’t let you buy them, and for good reasons. Anything with nicotine is bad news for your health—no matter how fancy it might look or how well you can hide it from grown-ups.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.

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