Researchers focus on dangers of Juul as teen vaping epidemic continues

More than 3.6 million U.S. teens used e-cigarettes last year

STANFORD, Ca. – The U.S. Surgeon General has called vaping an epidemic among adolescents.

More than 3.6 million U.S. teens, including one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students, used e-cigarettes last year.

Twenty-one percent of high school seniors vaped in the past month.  

And according to Stanford University researchers, most kids don’t realize the very serious health risks they are facing.  

Christian Hernandez knows you probably don’t approve of his Juul habit. That’s the popular e-cigarette that delivers a hefty dose of nicotine in kid-friendly flavors. However, Christian isn’t concerned, even after hearing the warnings.

“I'll think about other things I could put in my body. I’d rather have just nicotine and or Juul than everything else," Hernandez said.

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And that behavior is why Stanford University developmental psychologist Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a professor of pediatrics, worries teens don’t fully understand the true harm of Juul.  

"This has about 41 - 42 milligrams of nicotine per pod, so that’s equivalent to one to two packs of cigarettes," Halpern-Felsher explained.

According to a new study by Halpern-Felsher, adolescents who use Juul do so more often than those who use other vaping devices.   

“We also found that adolescents and young adults who were using Juuls reported being more addicted,” said Halpern-Felsher.

Junior, who wishes not to have his face shown, felt the effects of Juul quickly.   

“I got lightheaded at first. I just didn’t know what to do with myself for a cool minute or so, and then I just kept on taking more hits," he said.

“My parents don’t really know what it is," Hernandez said. "They just think it’s a flash drive.”   

Halpern-Felsher isn’t convinced that restricting sales will make a difference. She’s trying to reach kids before they start with a prevention toolkit. 

“We have reached over 170,000 youths throughout the country,” Halpern-Felsher said.

An impressive number but Hernandez warns, “I don’t see myself quitting vaping.”  

While Juul maintains that its products are meant for adults only, Stanford researchers say they found a landmine of ads and social media posts that indicate otherwise.