Prep for Parenting Your Modern Family

Posted on February 11th, 2019, 0 Comments

What You and Your Teen Need to Know About JUULing

Five years ago “vaping” was picked by Oxford Dictionary as its word of the year. If they were picking today, they would probably go with “JUULing” (pronounced jeweling) – coined from the vape device called JUUL.

JUUL’s popularity with teens helped turn this noun into a verb (just like years ago Xerox verbed into Xeroxing and Google into Googling). In fact, JUUL’s use has become so common that it accumulated a majority of the e-cigarette market in just two years.

This explosive growth has left many of us moms scrambling to learn about the risks, what to look for, and how to talk with our teens about it. To help you catch-up, here are a handful of facts you should know about JUUL:

1) There has been a startling increase in teen use of vaping devices in the past year. Over 37% of 12th graders report vaping in the last 12 months while over 20% report vaping nicotine in the 30 days prior to the survey. Vaping among younger teens is rising at record rates too. And many teen e-cigarette users don’t realize they are consuming nicotine when they vape. In fact, most teen users think they vaped only flavoring – not nicotine – the last time they used a product.¹

2) One JUUL pod contains about as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. A $49.99 starter kit contains a JUUL device, charging dock, and four nicotine JUUL pods. Although most young users surveyed said they were unaware that JUUL products always contain nicotine, each liquid filled pod contains about the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes (or about 200 puffs).²

Not only is nicotine highly addictive, nicotine exposure in teens is especially worrisome due to the fact that their brains are going through massive changes. Nicotine use may rewire teens’ brains, making it easier to become addicted to other substances and adding to problems with memory, concentration, and impulse control.

3) The slender JUUL is easy to hide. It looks like a thumb drive and can be charged in a USB port. It comes in a variety of sweet and fruity flavors. Although it does not produce a strong odor, take note if you catch a whiff of mint, mango or another flavor where there doesn’t appear to be a source.

4) Most teens who ever used JUUL say they tried it because their friends use it. The appealing variety of sweet and fruity flavors – such as mango, fruit medley, and crème brulee – was a close second most popular reason given by high school and middle school users.²

Most kids start vaping out of curiosity, the flavors, and wanting to fit in. However, overtime, it can become a habit. This is especially true if it is used to relieve anxiety or feeling down. Some kids become addicted to nicotine and continue to vape to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

5) Teens are getting JUUL at stores, from friends, and online. Although, by law, teens are not allowed to buy tobacco products, they’re still managing to get it. A recent national sample of 12-17 year olds found that nearly three quarters of teens were getting JUUL from a store or outlet. A little more than half said they got it from a friend or family member. While only 6 percent of teens purchased it online, all who tried to obtain it online were successful.²

Try This
Once you are equipped with some facts, look for opportunities to discuss vaping with your teen. Below are some tips to help get the discussion started.

Have conversations rather than lecture. These may be sparked by an advertisement, seeing someone creating a vape cloud, or even a letter sent from school about vaping policies. Begin by asking an open-ended question such as “What do you think about vaping?” and “Why do you think kids vape?”

As you listen, remember that acknowledging your teen’s right to have an opinion that differs from yours, is not that same thing as agreeing with their perspective or condoning unacceptable behavior. And don’t assume that all the outrageous things your teen says are what they really think. Our teens often use us as sounding boards. By challenging us they get new ideas and insights into what we believe and what we value as they decide which of these to take as their own.

Try to really listen to understand why. Often when we hear things we don’t agree with or don’t like, we stop really listening and instead simply wait to make our own points. But if your teen is vaping, your best way to safeguard their health is to understand why by asking questions like “How does vaping make you feel?” and “What do you like about it?”

Answers to these questions can help you determine whether they’re experimenting because they’re curious or bored, using regularly to stave off sadness and anxiety, or whether they’re using to try to feel normal because they have become addicted. Knowing why they are using underscores your teen’s needs. And with that knowledge, you can help them find healthier ways to deal with their needs.

Talk about your concerns and expectations. Share your concerns about the risks – concerns about nicotine, about the heavy metals and chemicals that are in the electronic cigarette liquid (with or without nicotine), unknown health risks, as well as the severe facial and leg burns linked to e-cigarette explosions.

Be clear about what you expect. When our messages are vague, it’s easier for our teens to ignore what we say. And if you set consequences, be sure to follow through. Because when our consequences are unpredictable, our teens themselves may become uncertain of how they want to behave.

In addition to talking about the risks, also talk about why teens might want to vape.
– If your teen is tempted by the novelty and rush that comes from trying something new, look for other, healthier ways for them to meet that need. For my son it meant helping him purchase a mountain bike so that he could ride the steep trails in the foothills near our North Carolina home.

– If you learn your teen is using to feel better or because they’ve become addicted, you’ll want to seek professional advice.

If you have a younger teen, role-play how to refuse. Sooner of later, most teens are likely to be in a situation where they will be offered an opportunity to try a flavor or see how big of a cloud they can blow. Discuss potential dilemmas and help your teen think of ways to handle them. Together come up with words that feel right to them and that they can say naturally. And coach them on using direct eye contact with confident body language.

Bottom Line
Keeping up with all the risks, having conversations, setting limits, meting out appropriate consequences, and generally looking out for the well-being of teens is hard work. And, by nature, teens usually don’t think they need their parents’ advice or help.

But rest assured, you and your beliefs and values matter deeply to your teen. They will almost never tell you this – at least not directly. But it’s still true.

Sources and Resources
¹Adolescent Drug Trends in 2018

² Truth Initiative: Latest Research

Behind the Explosive Growth of JUUL

Vaping, JUULing and e-cigarettes: What teens and parents need to know

How To Talk With Your Kids About Vaping

6 Important Facts About JUUL


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