America’s Teenagers Are Quickly Becoming the Next Generation of Smokers
Public Health Concerns Over E-Cigarette Trends Among Youth
Emerging tobacco products are threatening decades of progress in public health. At the forefront is a relatively new and non-traditional electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), JUUL, which has become increasingly popular among youth and young adults and has quickly become the top-selling e-cigarette on the market.
JUULs are small and easy to conceal devices that closely resemble a USB flash drive. The non-traditional design of a JUUL allows for ease of use, without detection, among youth and young adults in middle school, high school and college. JUUL can be charged through any USB port and customized with various colors or patterns; thus, making the product easy to disguise.
Flavors such as cool mint, crème brûlée, and mango further entice young users. JUULs work by heating a “pod” of flavored nicotine e-liquid to create a subtle vapor for users to inhale. Unfortunately, many youth and young adults are unaware that all JUUL pods contain nicotine in amounts equivalent to a pack of cigarettes.
What’s even more alarming is that nicotine levels delivered by JUUL are more than twice the amount of levels in other e-cigarettes. The nicotine potency significantly increases the risk of addiction and likelihood of progression to other tobacco product use among youth and young adults, according to a 2016 U.S. Surgeon General Report.
Although research needs to be done on the long-term health consequences of JUULs, scientific studies reveal e-cigarettes are dangerous. Youth and young adults are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of smoking since the brain does not fully develop until age 25. Young brains are sensitive to any amount of nicotine use and have a greater chance of addiction. In addition, E-cigarette users have an increased risk of tobacco-related diseases due to the harmful chemicals in e-liquids. We must prevent youth access and uptake of tobacco products to protect the health of Monterey County’s teenagers from the number one cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the U.S.
Tobacco retail licensing (TRL) requires retailers to obtain an annual license to sell tobacco, adhere to tobacco retail laws and allows for greater enforcement of tobacco laws. Locally, there are TRL ordinances in the cities of Carmel, Monterey, Salinas and the unincorporated areas of Monterey County. Monterey County Collaborates, which is a group of individuals and organizations advocating for a safe and healthy Monterey County, encourages other cities to adopt a TRL ordinance to prevent youth access and uptake of tobacco products; thereby creating a safer and healthier Monterey County.
Monterey County Collaborates envisions a Monterey County where youth are safe and become leaders that facilitate healthy choices. If you would like more information on Monterey County Collaborates, please contact Andrea Estrada at (831) 755-4382 or email Andrea at email@example.com.