Beasley Allen Law Firm hosted a FREE event for parents and teens to provide information about the dangers vaping poses to youth.
Nationwide, the number of teens vaping has increased as devices have grown in popularity. “Teenage usage of JUUL and similar vaping devices has become a national epidemic,” said Joseph VanZandt, a lawyer in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section. “Kids using JUUL are exposed to dangerous, highly addictive levels of nicotine, which is harmful to the adolescent brain. Nicotine usage during the teen years can lead to a lifetime of addiction and health problems. Most of us thought the tobacco epidemic was behind us. Vaping has been able to undo a lot of that progress. Another epidemic has developed right under our noses.”
Vaping involves inhaling an aerosol created by devices that heat a liquid, usually containing flavoring and chemicals including nicotine. Nicotine is the addictive drug in regular cigarettes. Modern vaping devices entered the market in the mid-2000s and were promoted to adult smokers to stop smoking traditional cigarettes and tobacco products.
Dr. Carla J. Berg, PhD., MBA, of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta, discussed the dangers nicotine poses to adolescents. Dr. Berg focuses her research on tobacco control, with particular emphases on social marketing, consumer behavior, policy change and impact, and vulnerable populations including youth.
“Arming parents, educators and the community with accurate information is powerful as we work to prevent addiction and strive to protect our teens and youth from dangerous chemicals and their delivery systems such as vaping devices,” said Dr. Berg.
Although vaping is not safe for youth, in 2015, JUUL brand vape devices were introduced and, rather than marketing its products to adults, JUUL targeted younger generations through shrewd and aggressive social media campaigns. Additionally, the San Francisco-based startup’s devices were designed to deliver a higher dose of nicotine than other brands and in less than two years grew to become a multi-billion-dollar empire. It now controls more than three-quarters of the U.S. vape market.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that high school students using vaping devices soared from 1.5 percent to 13.4 percent between 2011 and 2014. According to the CDC that rate has jumped to 21 percent in 2018. During the same time period, vaping among middle school students increased from 0.6 percent to 3.9 percent. A corresponding increase in advertising for these products occurred at the same time, climbing from $6.4 million in 2011 to approximately $115 million in 2014.