Walk into just about any high school bathroom in the country and you can smell it, a sickeningly sweet mix of fruit, mint and mango.
It’s not air freshener. It’s vaping liquid from JUUL pods, sleek e-cigarettes that look a lot like a USB flash drive.
The Centers for Disease Control reports an astounding rise in e-cigarette sales at JUUL labs, 641-percent in just one year from 2016 to 2017.
Many users are teenagers.
“There’s a lot of public health attention around this, and it’s justifiably so. Because we know that e-cigarettes are not safe for youth,” says Dr. Brian King of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “They contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, but it can also harm the developing adolescent brain.”
What’s more, JUUL products contain nicotine salts which lower the ph level, or acidity, of the e-cigarette.
“The type of nicotine salts that are used make it go down easier and it’s not as harsh,” Dr. King explains.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration conducted a surprise inspection of JUUL’s headquarters and seized thousands of documents.
In a statement, JUUL Labs describes the encounter as a “constructive and transparent dialogue” and says “We want to be part of the solution in preventing underage use, and we believe it will take industry and regulators working together to restrict youth access.”
The FDA has also said JUUL Labs and other e-cigarette companies must come up with a plan to get their products out of kids’ hands or face a ban of all flavored e-cigarettes.