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An increasing number of health studies and lawsuits have started to appear that raise concern about the use of electronic cigarettes – or e-cigarettes. While e-cigarettes, like the popular brand JUUL, were initially praised as a way to quit smoking or reduce some of the negative effects of traditional tobacco cigarettes, these electronic smoking devices have come under fire for their potentially negative health effects, as well as their tendency to market toward the youth.

What is an E-Cigarette?

While e-cigarettes work similarly to normal cigarettes, there is growing concern about the relatively unknown side effects of prolonged use. Where a normal cigarette requires a flame to release nicotine from tobacco leaves, resulting in smoke, an e-cigarette works using electrical currents to turn liquid – sometimes called ‘juice’ – into a breathable water vapor that does not linger like normal cigarette smoke. Another major component to e-cigarettes and vaporizers, also known as vapes, is that there are multiple flavors for consumers to choose from, such as cool cucumber, fruit punch, crème brule, and traditional flavors like menthol and tobacco.

While the tobacco industry has been heavily regulated, these new e-cigarettes lack proper regulation or research into their potentially harmful side-effects. As mentioned earlier, the most popular brand of e-cigarette, the JUUL, hit the market in 2015 and has since inspired many alternate brands and versions. For the JUUL brand, each disposable cartridge has a level of nicotine equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. JUUL products can come in varying strengths of nicotine – from 5% to 3% — while other vaporizing products come in any assortment of percentages.

Demographic of Electronic Cigarettes and Vapes

Last year, a survey done by The Centre for Substance Use (CSUR) demonstrated the demographics of JUUL users. The CSUR study found most surveyed users were using this e-cigarette to ultimately quit their nicotine addiction. In contrast to the CSUR survey, however, research lead by the US non-profit Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) found that JUUL usage amongst the youth was an “epidemic.”

Health Concerns of E-Cigarette

The side-effects and potential disastrous outcomes associated with cigarettes are known due to a large investment in research. As an extension, JUUL, and other e-cigarette brands, may be causing harms that are simply not yet known, due specifically to the lack of current research. The National Center For Health Research found that JUUL usage among “adolescents exposes them to large amounts of nicotine that can have adverse health risks for their physical and emotional development.” In addition, they found that early usage of JUUL by adolescents was associated with:

  • Reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex
  • Increased irritability
  • Greater impulsivity
  • Future of Electronic Cigarettes

While the future of electronic cigarettes is still up in the air, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was given the authority to impose rules and regulations over the e-cigarette industry in 2016. With this authority, the FDA has postponed many e-cigarette applications for FDA approval until 2022.

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