Ever see a cloud of vapor rising above someone’s head but they are indoors or in what you thought was a no-smoking area? Chances are they’ve been using a vaporizer e-cigarette (electronic cigarette).
What Is Juuling?
Juuling refers to the use of a specific type of electronic cigarette called a Juul device.
Juuls are small discreet e-cigarettes that allow for quick use and don’t attract much attention. The device looks like a USB card that you stick into a computer (and incidentally, they can be charged in USB ports on computers).
This specific type of e-cigarette has exploded in popularity in recent years. As of 2018, Juuls account for around 60% of e-cig sales in America 15.
Juuls were created as an easy-to-use alternative to cigarettes as well as to help people transition off cigarettes. Hence, Juuls contain about the same amount of nicotine as cigarettes.
>E-cigarette manufacturers say that their customers will avoid the toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke and that vaping is much healthier than smoking. Are their claims true?
And are there downsides to vaping? Is it safe?
Is Juuling Dangerous?
Although Juuls and other e-cigarettes are marketed as safe alternatives to cigarettes, these electronic vaporizers aren’t completely safe. There are some definite health downsides to them. Let’s check some of these out:
Possible Danger #1: Nicotine Addiction
If you’re ever deprived of your Juul once you’ve started juuling, you’ll probably feel pretty bad!
Similar to cigarettes, Juuls can get people addicted to nicotine. After all, you’re breathing in as much nicotine when you vape Juuls as you would when smoking a cigarette.
Without even considering the health effects of nicotine, being addicted is a negative thing in itself. You’ll depend on nicotine to feel good, and without it, you’ll experience very unpleasant symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association says that there are “7 primary symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal: irritability/anger/frustration, anxiety, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, insomnia, and restlessness” 1.
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Possible Danger #2: Could Harm Cardiovascular Health
Juuling isn’t the best thing for your heart (although it’s not as bad as smoking old-fashioned cigarettes).
The nicotine in Juuls constricts your blood vessels 2. For some people, this extra constriction could be dangerous if their arteries and heart are not in great health.
In order for your body to pump blood where it needs to go and to avoid blockages that can cause heart attacks, your veins have to be able to dilate (enlarge) to let blood flow through them. Unfortunately, nicotine interferes with healthy blood flow and puts stress on your heart and blood vessels by increasing your heart rate and blood pressure 2.
Possible Danger #3: Increased Risk of Tumours
When tumor cells are in your body, you want them to die as soon as possible lest they spread and kill you. The last thing you want is something that fuels their growth, and nicotine can do just that 3.
Research has shown that nicotine stimulates cells to grow and divide, and it also leads to the creation of new blood vessels that can feed tumors 3. In mice, nicotine “significantly increased the size and number of tumors in the lung” and “enhanced” the spread the tumors 3.
Possible Danger #4: DNA Damage
DNA damage can accelerate aging.
Researchers think that nicotine causes DNA damage by creating oxidative stress 4.
Juuls contain benzoic acid, and although it’s a natural substance, concerns have been raised about its DNA-damaging effects 5.
Propylene glycol and glycerin are two other ingredients in Juuls, and when vaporized, can release toxic compounds that can damage DNA 6,7. Formaldehyde is one of the nasty compounds that can be generated, and it can mutate your DNA 7.
Juuling Compared to Smoking
How do e-cigarettes stack up against smoking old-fashioned tobacco cigarettes? The evidence suggests that e-cigs are not as bad, but they aren’t healthy, either.
E-Cigarettes Cause Less Lung Damage
Studies examining e-cigarettes’ effect on lung function have shown mixed results. There’s some evidence that users didn’t show signs lung damage after three and a half years of using e-cigs 8. No physical signs of even “early” lung damage were seen, and lung function was normal compared to people who didn’t use e-cigs 8. But other research has shown that lung function is harmed by e-cigs 9.
The good news for e-cigarette users is that vaporizing causes “much less” inflammatory damage to the lungs than normal cigarettes 10. Animal and cell culture studies have shown this to be the case 10. And smokers who switch to e-cigs have better lung function 11.
E-Cigarettes Generate Less Toxic Compounds
E-cigarettes expose you to less of the toxic chemical benzene, but you'll still get unhealthy amounts when you vape 12. Researchers consider the benzene production from e-cigarettes to be a disease risk 12.
Using e-cigarettes “decreases” the amount of carcinogenic compounds like carbon monoxide and other toxic chemicals <13.
Chemical analysis has shown that e-cigarettes are “far less harmful” compared to tobacco cigarettes 14.
E-Cigarettes Are Less Harmful to Your Cardiovascular System
E-cigs don’t have the dramatic negative effects on blood pressure and heart rate that tobacco cigarettes do 14. Also, e-cigs don’t appear to impair blood flow nearly as much as tobacco cigarettes 14.
Are Juuls and E-Cigarettes Worth It?
Considering all this info, should you steer clear of electronic cigarettes? For most people, the answer is yes.
For some cigarette smokers, using e-cigs may be a useful way of transitioning out of and weaning off tobacco cigarettes. In these cases, Juul users will still get the nicotine buzz with less of the harmful chemicals and negative effects of tobacco cigarettes.
But as you’ve seen here, the evidence shows that Juuling and vaping is not very healthy. Steer clear from it if you can!