E-Cigarettes and "Juuling" — What All Camps Need to Know

E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid usually contains nicotine (which is addictive) and flavoring. Because of the inclusion of nicotine, which comes from tobacco, e-cigarettes are typically considered tobacco products. Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain other potentially harmful ingredients.

What Are "Juuls" and E-Cigarettes?

Juul is a brand of vaping devices that has become synonymous with the term “vape” itself. Juul devices, referred to as “Juuls,” look like a USB drive. They don’t look suspicious, are small and easy to hide in the palm of your hand, and are rechargeable. Over the past few years, e-cigarettes have skyrocketed in popularity among young users, and Juul is perhaps the best-known brand. These sleek vapes resemble USB/flash/thumb drives, come in a wide array of flavors, and contain as much nicotine per cartridge — which lasts about 200 puffs — as an entire pack of cigarettes.

The Juul device consists of a long, slim vaporizer and disposable “pods” of nicotine juice. The pods come in flavors such as menthol, mango, chocolate, fruits, cucumber, and more. It charges on a laptop or other USB port. The device heats the nicotine juice to create vapor, which is inhaled by the user.

Due to their sleek design and resemblance to USB drives, these highly concentrated nicotine vaporizers are easy for students to conceal and use in public and school, sometimes even in the middle of class. It has become the latest craze to hit campuses across the country, sounding alarm bells for educators, parents, and lawmakers.

Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

No. E-cigarettes product should never be considered “safe” — especially not for those who are underage. Teenage brains are still developing, so they’re uniquely vulnerable to addiction. Nicotine is very addictive, and exposure to nicotine in adolescence has been shown to have long-term impacts on brain development. It may affect teens’ behavior, concentration, memory, and their ability to learn.

E-Cigarette Prevalence

E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth.

  • In the United States, youth are more likely than adults to use e-cigarettes.
  • In 2016, more than 2 million US middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, including 4.3 percent of middle school students and 11.3 percent of high school students. (Gentzke and Hu, 2017)

Reasons reported by young people for using e-cigarettes include curiosity, taste, and the belief that e-cigarettes are less harmful than other tobacco products. More than three out of five American teens believe e-cigarettes cause little or only some harm.

E-cigarettes are a $2.5-billion business in the US. As of 2014, the e-cigarette industry spent $125 million a year to advertise their products and used many of the techniques that made traditional cigarettes popular, such as sexual content and customer satisfaction. Also, in 2014, about seven in ten middle school and high school students — more than 18 million youth — said they had seen e-cigarette advertising. Retail stores were the most frequent source of this advertising, followed by the internet, TV and movies, and magazines and newspapers.

Top Tips for Camps

  1. Know and share the facts.  Learn about e-cigarettes and "Juuling" and the threats they pose to youth and young adults. E-cigarettes are known by many different names. Aside from "Juuls," they are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).” Some e-cigarettes are made to look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some resemble pens, USB sticks, and other everyday items. Larger devices such as tank systems, or “mods,” do not resemble other tobacco products. Using an e-cigarette is sometimes called “vaping.” E-cigarettes can be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs.
  2. Know the risks.  Read about the risks of e-cigarettes and young people from US Surgeon General, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Restrict e-cigarette use (in all of its forms) at camp. Don’t let anyone use e-cigarettes or other tobacco products around young people. Not only are youth watching the behaviors of others as an example, but they’re also at risk of exposure to nicotine and other chemicals that can be harmful to their health.
  4. Be an Example. Be an example to youth by living tobacco-free. 

The More You Know

Resources

Jamal A, Gentzke A, Hu SS, et al. Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2011–2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:597–603.

2016 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on e-cigarette use