Vital Signs: Juuls have addictive properties

By Anna Kellaher
Columnist

E-cigarettes have been rising in popularity for years. The latest and greatest in vaporized nicotine is the Juul, a specific brand of e-cigarettes. Juul stands apart not only because of its sleek and discreet design, but also because of its ability to deliver more nicotine per hit compared to other devices.

Nicotine is an addictive drug that stimulates your brain’s reward system, the release of dopamine. According to the manufacturer, each Juul pod contains as much nicotine as one pack of cigarettes, according to Vox.

The purpose of the Juul was to be an alternative to cigarettes for adults who were already addicted to nicotine. Public health officials are worried about the teens and young adults who are developing nicotine addictions because of the popularity of e-cigarettes like Juuls, according to Vox.

Nicotine is the chemical that will get you hooked, but Juul pods contain other potentially harmful substances, including the chemical diacetyl.

Diacetyl is a compound that is used to give foods a buttery flavor, and is found in many flavors of Juul pods, including vanilla and coconut. According to the American Lung Association, inhaling diacetyl can cause a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung.” The smallest airways in your lungs become inflamed and constricted, restricting oxygen from getting to your bloodstream.

The name popcorn lung stems from the hundreds of workers at popcorn factories who suffered from the condition. Diacetyl is banned from popcorn production, but Juuls provide a new way to directly inhale the chemical.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pushed back the deadline for e-cigarette companies to document that their products fall within public health regulations. Companies now have until 2022 to prove that their products are safe.

In the meantime, don’t let the inconspicuous design of an e-cigarette hide the dangers inside.

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