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Smoking device hooks kids with sweet tasting nicotine

Vaping from e-cigarette devices presents health threats from heating the chemical composition, while addicting nicotine, the chief ingredient in e-cigs like JUULs, accelerate the heart rate and increase blood pressure. JUUL smoking device employing deceptive design mimicks

Vaping from e-cigarette devices presents health threats from heating the chemical composition, while addicting nicotine, the chief ingredient in e-cigs like JUULs, accelerate the heart rate and increase blood pressure.

JUUL smoking device employing deceptive design mimicks USB flash drives

Smoking has always been one of the snares of youth. Now, a cleverly-designed smoking device known as a JUUL, whose use is popularly referred to as JUULing, comes from the acronym, JUUL — “JUice USB Lighting.” The brand name of a clever e-smoking device, JUUL is actually one of the numerous brands of flavored e-cigarettes invented by the tobacco industry targeting youth.

Resembling a flash drive, the JUUL is easily hidden from parents and teachers because of its deceptive design. Each JUUL cartridge contains the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of traditional cigarettes. Courtesy CDPH Smoking device. Courtesy CDPH

JUULs are not the only e-cigarettes on the market, but easily the overwhelming favorite, estimated to be worth $15 billion. Alarmingly, the California Department of Public Health found that a huge proportion of JUUL’s patrons are in fact, youth.

The device eludes the radar of parents and teachers because JUULs, which resemble USB flash drives, digital tools used to store information, are meant to deceive the uninitiated — often parents and school teachers.

JUUL Labs’ mission is to eliminate cigarettes. JUUL is intended for adult smokers who want to switch from combustible cigarettes.

For context, USB in the traditional sense refers to “Universal Serial Bus,” a common interface that enables communication between devices and a host controller such as a personal computer. It connects peripheral devices such as digital cameras, mice, keyboards, printers, scanners, media devices, external hard drives, and flash drives.

But, obviously, USB in JUULing has no similar application, but rather a reference to the device’s clever design to mimic a flash drive for no other obvious purpose than for deception.

JUULs cleverly resemble USB flash drives and can be recharged on a laptop computer. Courtesy CDPH

The JUUL has one of the simplest and most iconic designs in the vaping world. The slim, rectangular body and easily removable JUUL pods set the standard for practically all e-cigarettes. It’s not hard to see why everyone would want to emulate the JUUL’s ease of use, superior convenience, and easy portability.

Vaping from e-cigarette devices presents health threats from heating the chemical composition in addition to addicting nicotine, which can accelerate heart rate and increase blood pressure, according to health advocate WebMD.

The JUUL’s smoking alternative is a slim, highly portable design is simple and iconic. Just attach a JUUL pod to a fully charged JUUL, then inhale from the mouthpiece. The ease of use is one of the reasons why the JUUL is such a popular cigarette alternative – so simple, kids adapt quickly to its use.

‘Flavors Hook Kids’

Smokers must be at least 21 years old to purchase products on JUUL.com, but that doesn’t stop youth younger than the legal age from acquiring JUULs either online, from legal-age smokers or from retailers illegally selling to kids. For retailers, the inducement is the $49.99 price tag.

The e-cig deception is two-tiered. Big Tobacco implemented another snare to effectively trap young people in its web — sweet-tasting flavored nicotine. Adults are catching on to the furtive use of JUULs and other e-cigarette devices by their children thanks to preventive campaigns like the CDPH’s “Flavors Hook Kids” program, to educate them about the tobacco industry’s campaign to hook kids.

According to CDPH, 30 percent of high schoolers in the state say they have vaped — the process of smoking through an electric cigarette device that typically generates a plume of vapor that mimics smoke. The device heats liquid and nicotine so the user can inhale the byproduct. Vaping devices generally come in the form of e-cigarettes and vape pens.

E-liquid is the mixture used in electronic cigarettes. The main ingredients in the e-liquid usually are propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings. The liquid typically contains 95 percent propylene glycol and glycerin. Propylene glycol by its chemical breakdown is dihydrogen monoxide or di-hydrogen monoxide (H2O) just water.

Glycerol or glycerin is a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is sweet-tasting and non-toxic. The glycerol backbone is found in all lipids known as triglycerides. It is widely used in the food industry as a sweetener and humectant and in pharmaceutical formulations — (more on this later).

No federal agency oversees the e-cigarette industry. That means no standards exist. In fairness, labels may inaccurately describe ingredients, and what you find in one brand of e-cigarettes may be vastly different from that found in another, for better or worse.

The results of one FDA review of 18 different e-cigarette cartridges found toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in some but not others. All but one of the cartridges labeled “no nicotine” did, in fact, contain nicotine. The authors suggest that “quality control processes used to manufacture these products are inconsistent or non-existent.”

The chemical composition of e-cigs only sounds ominous, but the only certain injurious ingredient is nicotine.

Harmful effects of nicotine?

The addictive ingredient in e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes, nicotine stimulates the central nervous system and raises blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. “People smoke because of the nicotine,” says researcher Maciej Goniewicz, Ph.D., PharmD, a tobacco and e-cigarette expert at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.

While it is addictive, nicotine doesn’t cause cancer, says Goniewicz: “What causes concern [is] the other chemicals [in the e-liquid].”

Goniewicz says hundreds of flavors exist, including cherry, cheesecake, cinnamon, and tobacco. Many of those flavoring chemicals, he says, are also used to flavor food.

“These are the big unknowns,” he says. “When we eat them, they are safe, but we don’t know what’s going on when we inhale them.”

Inhaling chemicals in e-cigarettes

It would be unfeasible to list all the various flavoring chemicals here, but one such chemical, diacetyl, according to health advisor, WebMD, is commonly used to add a buttery flavor to popcorn. It’s been linked to obstructive lung disease when inhaled. Other chemicals that add buttery flavor might be harmful as well, says Neal Benowitz, M.D., a former member of the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.

Propylene glycol (PG) is a lab-made liquid that the FDA generally views as safe in food, drugs, and cosmetics. It’s also used to make artificial smoke or fog for rock concerts and other performances. It can irritate the lungs and eyes and may be more harmful to people with chronic lung diseases like asthma and emphysema.

Glycerin is odorless and colorless. In liquid form, it has a slightly sweet taste. Like PG, the FDA generally views it as safe. It’s found in many products, including food and drugs, both prescription and over the counter.

While both PG and glycerin are safe in food and drugs, Goniewicz says, “we don’t know what happens if someone inhales large amounts of these chemicals over the long term. This is really unknown.”

Chemical threats unleashed by heating

Toxic chemicals are formed as the e-liquid heats up to make the aerosol that e-cig users inhale. Some of these chemicals can cause inflammation and blood vessel damage responses, says Benowitz, who is also a professor at the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine, noted, “In most preparations, they are much lower than you find in cigarette smoking, but they are of concern.”

These chemicals include formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, probable carcinogens, and acrolein, which forms from heating glycerin. Acrolein can damage the lungs and contribute to heart disease in smokers.

All three are released in increasing amounts as the temperature of the e-liquid rises. Benowitz says users may be tempted to go for the higher temperatures.

“Unfortunately, the higher you heat the liquid, the more nicotine you get from it,” he noted. “People who want to get a big dose of nicotine may use really high voltage batteries or an adjustable voltage battery.”

Goniewicz says flavors might mask the unpleasant taste that results when users heat their e-cigarettes to the point at which formaldehyde is made.

Particulates and Metals

The tiny particles in e-cigarette aerosol also may be harmful. This is certainly the case for cigarette smoke and other air pollution, which can cause blood vessel damage, inflammation, and nervous system effects, said Benowitz.

E-cigarette aerosol has similar levels of particulates as regular cigarettes. But not enough research has been done on e-cigarettes to draw any conclusions about the safety of breathing in the particles they produce.

Toxic metals such as tin, nickel, cadmium, lead, and mercury have been found in e-cigarette aerosol, too. A 2013 study notes that some metals, such as nickel, occur in concentrations 2 to 100 times than that of cigarettes.

For more information, log on to visit https://www.abbreviations.com/JUUL 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. is Publisher and Editor of Compton Herald. He attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and is an alumnus of California State University, Los Angeles.

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