By Marybeth Bock

It’s probably not a surprise to any teen that JUUL brand e-cigarettes are currently the most popular type being used by high school and college students in Arizona, and across the entire country.

Why are JUULs the best-selling brand on the market? Three reasons: their small size that’s easily hidden in the palm of a hand, their flash-drive design that’s conveniently plugged into any USB port, and their yummy-sounding flavors, such as mango, mint, and crème brulee.

Despite offering flavors such as these, which appeal to so many teens, the company that sells them, JUUL Labs, claims that they are not marketing to teenagers, and they are a“consumer product company dedicated to eliminating cigarettes by offering existing adult smokers a true alternative to combustible cigarettes.”

While this may have been the company’s initial business model, they are now profiting greatly from teens’ usage, and because of pressure from health professionals, they have begun a campaign to raise awareness among teens and parents surrounding the risks of using JUULs.

So, what exactly are the risks? Many teens falsely think e-cigarettes are pretty harmless, since they just contain some liquid that gets vaporized, with a little nicotine and flavoring thrown in.

Nicotine is a stimulant that comes from the tobacco plant. While JUULs don’t have any tobacco or tar in them like traditional cigarettes do, they do have a very concentrated amount of nicotine. A single liquid JUUL pod has the equivalent nicotine of twenty cigarettes – an entire pack’s worth. Any stimulant will momentarily raise your blood pressure and heart rate, but more importantly, they will trigger a release of chemicals in your brain that makes you feel good.

Your brain will quickly want more, so therefore your body will start to crave more nicotine and will cause you to feel uneasy if you don’t get more. This is how you can quickly become addicted to the nicotine.

There are other risks as well. A recent study published in the medical journal Pediatricsestablished that teens who used e-cigarettes had evidence of at least five cancer-causing chemicals in their saliva and urine. Even JUUL’s own website contains these warnings:

WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

CALIFORNIA PROPOSITION 65 WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.

New research this year from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine also points out that, “There is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use by youth and young adults increases their risk of ever using conventional cigarettes.”  That’s definitely a road you don’t want to start down.

The biggest unknown about JUUL use is that the long-term health effects are unclear. The product just hasn’t been on the market long enough for there to be sufficient research and guidelines for safe usage. So far, the only positive thing one can say about JUULing is that it isn’t as horrible as smoking regular cigarettes- and that’s not saying a lot.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the social media hype that tries to hook girls on the “JUUL lifestyle” with pretty pictures and promises of relaxation, freedom and sex appeal.

There’s nothing at all sexy or relaxing about chemical addiction and unknown health problems. You can be smarter than the marketing.