"We must take aggressive steps to protect our children from these highly potent products that risk exposing a new generation of young people to nicotine", the top United States doctor, Jerome Adams, said in a rare public advisory. However, we do know the nicotine in e-cigarettes is highly addictive and could cause life-long problems.
Adams recommends parents, teachers, and health professionals learn about e-cigarettes, talk to children about the risks, and set an example by not using tobacco products.
Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pointed to recent data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that showed the percentage of high school seniors who used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days almost doubled to 20.9 percent from past year. Juul, the most popular vape product by far among teens, offers no nicotine-free flavors. "The brain actually isn't done developing until the early to even mid-20s so even through age 25 our brain is still developing and any nicotine use can affect the brain development", said Thoman.
"Although e-cigs generally contain fewer toxicants than combustible tobacco products, they can expose users to harmful chemicals in addition to nicotine", he added. "We need to protect our young people from all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes".
Adams said many teenagers think that e-cigarette vapor poses no danger.
According to a spokesperson with Albuquerque Public Schools, the district bans e-cigarettes but they're updating their policy to cover all of the bases. The company leapfrogged over its larger competitors with online promotions portraying its small device as the latest high-tech gadget for hip, attractive young people.
Another selling point of e-cigarettes is that they can be used in many settings where smoking is prohibited.
Juul now has a 70 percent share in the cartridge-based e-cigarette market in U.S. An e-cigarette cartridge, or pod, can hold the same amount of nicotine as a regular pack of 20 cigarettes.
Last month Juul shut down its social media accounts and halted in-store sales of its flavoured cartridges to deter use by under-18s.
"JUUL Labs shares a common goal with the Surgeon General and other federal health regulators - preventing youth from initiating on nicotine", according to a statement from Victoria Davis, a Juul spokesperson.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has imposed fines on e-cigarette retailers for unlawfully selling e-cigarette products to minors.