Teens use Juul e-cigarettes much more often than other vaping products

Such devices are more popular with youth than other e-cigs or cigarettes, a study finds

Juul e-cigarette

SLEEK AND SEDUCTIVE  “Pod-mod” e-cigarettes, such as the Juul brand shown above, are easily hidden in the palm of one’s hand, and can deliver higher nicotine concentrations than other kinds of e-cigarettes.

Chris Allan/shutterstock

Teens who try the latest, sleekest iteration of electronic cigarettes may be more likely to become regular users, compared with those who try other e-cigarettes or regular cigarettes, a new study suggests.

These pod-mod e-cigarettes, which resemble a USB drive, come with a prefilled pod of flavored liquid that contains a higher concentration of nicotine than other e-cigarettes. And the devices are small and don’t produce much vapor, making them easy to conceal.

Researchers asked 437 California high school students about their use of a particular pod-mod e-cigarette called Juul as well as other e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes. About 16 percent, or 68 respondents, said they had tried “Juuling,” a term teens use for vaping with this product. Close to 60 percent of that group said they’d used the product in the last 30 days, according to a study published online October 19 in JAMA Network Open.

That’s in contrast to the use reported by 133 teens who had tried other e-cigarettes or the 106 who had tried cigarettes: 30 percent reported vaping in the last 30 days and 28 percent said they had smoked in the last month.

If supported by other work, the study’s findings “may mean that pod-based electronic cigarettes offer an even greater risk of nicotine dependence than other nicotine [and] tobacco products in this vulnerable population,” says psychologist Thomas Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, who coauthored a commentary accompanying the study.

Nicotine exposure leads to addiction and harms teens’ developing brains (SN for Students: 8/19/15). There are “lifelong consequences for continued use” of pod-mod e-cigarettes and other nicotine-containing products, says study coauthor and developmental psychologist Bonnie Halpern-Felsher of Stanford University School of Medicine.

Public health prevention efforts need to keep up with new products such as the Juul e-cig that may hook teen users who weren’t tempted by earlier devices, she says.

Aimee Cunningham is the biomedical writer. She has a master’s degree in science journalism from New York University.

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