JUUL is one of the most popular brands of e-cigarette and vaping devices. Based in the San Francisco area, JUUL is a company facing increased scrutiny particularly amid claims they market their products to teens and young people. There is also increasing evidence coming to light that shows how dangerous vaping can be for teens, and how addictive.

One man is suing JUUL over claims that he started vaping in high school and that he then became addicted to JUUL in part because of the company’s marketing strategy. The man, now 22, is named Maxwell Berger. Berger not only said in the lawsuit he filed that he is addicted to JUUL, but that it caused him to experience a stroke. In 2017, Berger says he had a massive stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side, impaired his speech and caused 50% loss of vision in both eyes.

The suit was filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, and it highlights growing concerns about teen addiction starting with vaping in school. The suit alleges the JUUL company fraudulently conceals and misrepresents their products, and they also exhibit negligence in how they promote and sell them to people who are under the age of 26. A spokesperson for JUUL was contacted by Forbes, and they said the lawsuit was without merit.

According to Berger’s suit, he developed a JUUL dependency in 2015, after he completed his last year of high school. He said within two years he was vaping every ten minutes and ended up consuming two pods a day. He said his high level of consumption led him to have a hemorrhagic stroke in 2017. His suit says he needed three brain surgeries and spent more than 100 days in the hospital.

A JUUL spokesperson issued a statement saying they don’t want youth or non-nicotine users to use their product. The company, in the statement, said they’ve launched an action plan to combat underage JUUL use.

JUUL has shut down social media accounts and has eliminated fruit-flavored vaping products from their line-up, but some say its too little too late from the company. JUUL in the past before the controversy often used young models, bright colors and text that looked memes in their advertising. Company co-founder Adam Bowen now says their early ads weren’t appropriate but at the same time said they had no impact on sales.

Increasing Popularity of JUUL

Data from 2018 indicated 1.3 million more high school students used e-cigarettes last year than they did the previous. It represented the biggest jump in the history of the Food and Drug Administration studying any substance use, for a total of 44 years. The same research found 37% of high school seniors had tried vaping, which was up from 28%. Almost 21% of surveyed seniors said they’d recently vaped in 2018, as compared to only 11% in 2017.

Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told NBC news one of the most surprising components of the research was how frequently teens were using e-cigarettes, according to vaping statistics.

Teenage vaping statistics and research on kids JUULing commissioned in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse were also troubling. Many teens thought they were only vaping flavoring and didn’t realize nicotine was in the liquids they were using in e-cigarette devices.

Dangers of Teen Vaping

There are many dangers of teen vaping and vaping health risks. Unfortunately, teens and often parents may not even be aware of what they are. There is a perception that teen vaping is harmless, and that can be especially problematic.

For example, some research shows one of the dangers of vaping may be damage to the respiratory system. Also, nicotine affects the reward system in the brain and can trigger a flood of dopamine. This is similar to what happens with other addictive substances like heroin and cocaine. With repeated exposure to high levels of nicotine in e-cigarettes, teens may become not only addicted to the nicotine itself, but it may put them at risk of developing addictions to other substances.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nicotine can harm the teenage brain, which is still developing until around 25. Using nicotine during adolescence can also cause long-term effects on the areas of the brain that control learning, mood, attention and impulse control.

If you believe your teen is struggling with substance misuse, The Recovery Village may be able to help. Contact us for more information about evidence-based treatment rooted in compassion.

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