NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A new report shows an alarming spike in the use of an e-cigarette device called JUUL. Health experts are concerned about its popularity among kids.
At first glance, you may not know the device is a vape.
“JUULs have quickly overtaken in the electronic cigarette department as the most popular brand, because these juul electronic cigarettes look like flash drives. they’re very stylish, kids love them,” said LSU Health Professor and Cancer Epidemiologist Dr. Edward Trapido.
The CDC says sales of JUULs grew more than seven-fold from 2016 to 2017.
"The biggest draws towards these devices is that they're very pocketable. You can have it in your hand, you can hit it and have almost no smoke exhale," Hippie Gypsy employee Adam Nashoba said.
While some say vapes are ways to wean off of smoking cigarettes, JUULs have the highest concentration of nicotine.
"They have in one JUUL pod approximately 48 milligrams of nicotine, which is about one full pack. So one pod is approximately a full pack of cigarettes," Nashoba said.
One of the biggest concerns with JUULs are the effects of high nicotine on brain development.
"When you inhale nicotine, your heart races, it affects your ability to metabolize insulin. Your ability to metabolize insulin is associated with development of diabetes," Trapido said.
Trapido says the chemical is also associated with the development of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease.
“Also, it affects the synapses in the brain, in a developing brain. So you’ve got kids whose brains are developing, and the normal associations you make when you see something or when you learn something will be distorted by the presence of nicotine,” Trapido said.
While he says kids smoking tobacco products have gone down, use of e-cigarettes is going up.
“Nicotine is addictive. It’s the most addictive substance there is. Actually, more addictive than the so-called illegal or illicit drugs. Once kids get hooked on that, it is very, very hard to get off,” Trapido said.
Just like tobacco products, you have to be over 18 to legally buy it.
"Every single customer who comes in and buys a nicotine product, definitely gets ID'ed," Nashoba said.
"We do sell a lot of them, they're a lot more popular than the other e-cigs nowadays, especially with younger people," Happy Hookah employee Michael Machado said.
A representative with the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control said they are aware of this new trend, and will add e-cigarettes to their preventative educational lessons at schools.