Update 2/8/2018: E-Cigs That Look Like USB's Concern Health Officials, Company Response

Feb 7, 2018

Credit Wikimedia Commons Lindsay Fox

A clever new e-cigarette has emerged among young people. Community Health Specialist at Oneida County Health Department, Corie Zelazoski details the JUUL e-cigarette...

"...one of our students who represents our Rhinelander FACT group left a message saying she had seen some students using it. We've kept our eye on it. Across the state now we're seeing a huge increase in youth using these e-cigarettes and they're basically like regular e-cigarettes, except they are made to look like USB flash drives...."

Zelazoski says by making them look like a flash drive, they are much easier to fool parents, and teachers and others. She says the e-cigarette can plug into a computer to charge like a USB drive. She says they work just like other e-cigarettes...

"....it's exactly like an e-cigarette. It has the 'e-juice'. It can be nicotine or non-nicotine...we are findig most of the kids are using the nicotine-containing e-juices though...."

Zelazoski says the marketing includes a variety of flavors and they are labeled as a harmless smoking alternative....

"...it's not a safe alternative, especially for our youth because what is happening is they're using these e-cigarettes because they're thinking they're safe, non-harmful because that's the way they're marketed and then they become addicted to the nicotine and then they start using other, cheaper, tobacco products because these e-cigarette products do cost a lot to be using. Once they get addicted they turn to little cigars or other products to purchase..."

Zelazoski says the state recently launched a campaign to alert adults to the changes in marketing of tobacco. Zelazoski hopes parents will talk to their kids about the products. There's a new website with more information at tobaccoischanging.com

UPDATE 2/8/2018: In response to this article, a company spokesperson for JUUL issued this statement:

"JUUL Labs’ mission is to eliminate cigarette smoking by offering existing adult smokers a true alternative to combustible cigarettes.

JUUL is not intended for anyone else. We strongly condemn the use of our product by minors, and it is in fact illegal to sell our product to minors. No minor should be in possession of a JUUL product. Our goal is to further reduce the number of minors who possess or use tobacco products, including vapor products, and to find ways to keep young people from ever trying these products.

We approach this with a combination of education, enforcement, technology and partnership with others who are focused on this issue, including lawmakers, educators and our business partners. An individual who has not previously used nicotine products should not start, particularly youth. Recent science raises serious concerns about the adverse effect of nicotine on adolescent neurodevelopment.

We encourage parents to talk with their children about the dangers of nicotine. As a company we also continuously seek ways to contribute to this dialogue and knowledge base.”