YOUR HEALTH: Why kids just won’t stop vaping despite the risks

STANFORD, California – More than 3.5 million U.S. teens used e-cigarettes last year.   That's one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students.

Stanford University researchers found most kids don't realize the very serious health risks they are facing.

Christian Hernandez knows you probably don't approve of his  Juul habit.

That's the popular e-cigarette that delivers a hefty dose of nicotine in kid-friendly flavors.

However, Christian isn't concerned, even after hearing the warnings.

"If I think about other things I could put in my body, I'd rather have just nicotine and or Juul then everything else."

And that behavior is why Stanford University Developmental Psychologist Bonnie Halpern-Felsher worries teens don't fully understand the true harm of Juul.

"It has about 41, 42 milligrams of nicotine per pod. So that's equivalent to one to two packs of cigarettes," said Halpern-Felsher.

According to a new study by Halpern-Felsher, adolescents who use Juul do so more often than those who use other vaping devices.

"We also found that adolescents and young adults who were using Juuls reported being more addicted."

We talked with Junior, who wishes not to have his face shown.  He said he felt the effects of Juul quickly.

"I got lightheaded at first," he said.

"I just didn't know what to do with myself for a cool minute or so, and then I just kept on taking more hits."

"My parents don't really know what it is," said Christian.  "They just think it's a flash drive."

Halpern-Felsher isn't convinced that restricting sale will make a difference.

She's trying to reach kids before they start with a prevention toolkit.

"We have reached over a hundred seventy thousand youths throughout the country."

An impressive number, but Christian has a warning.

"I don't see myself quitting vaping."

While Juul maintains that its products are meant for adults only, Stanford researchers say they found a landmine of ads and social media posts that indicate otherwise.

In November of 2018, after federal regulators declared youth vaping an epidemic and demanded action from companies, Juul announced its decision to pull its flavored products from stores and remove its social media presence

  • Gone from retail stores are its mango, fruit, creme and cucumber flavored pods
  • Age verification is needed for online sales of the flavors
  • It will delete its Facebook and Instagram accounts and halt promotional posts on Twitter

But still it's also ultimately up to kids to stop using the product.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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