Are Juul Pods Dangerous? Here’s Why the FDA is Cracking Down on Popular Cigarette Alternatives

Electronic cigarettes, commonly known as e-cigarettes or vapes, have taken the U.S. by storm over the past year. Sales have skyrocketed, and e-cigs are commonly understood to be less dangerous than cigarettes, which explains their immense popularity. But are they actually that safe? The FDA doesn’t think so — and has decided to step in. It’s being called the most serious crackdown ever. And here’s why the FDA wants to do something about it.

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Juuls, vapes, and e-cigarettes are on the rise among youth. | master1305/iStock/Getty Images

Vapes (such as Juul pods) don’t contain the same amount of cancer-causing chemicals as cigarettes

Vapes have become so popular because they are considered a less dangerous alternative to smoking. They don’t contain the same chemicals found in cigarettes, which means they come with a much lower cancer risk. Vapes are sans tobacco, which is much better for overall health than inhaling a cigarette. Any amount of tobacco, either smoking or chewing, can have serious negative effects on health. Tobacco can lead to cancer in the lungs, mouth, esophagus, stomach, and more. Since vapes don’t contain tobacco, it’s often assumed they’re harmless.

But vapes are loaded with nicotine — and it’s extremely addictive

Cigarettes also contain one seriously addictive chemical: Nicotine. And vapes have plenty of it, too. Actually, one Juul pod has the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. And it’s not the tobacco that gets people hooked on cigarettes — it’s the nicotine. This means those who inhale from the Juul pod are actually becoming just as addicted to it as a cigarette smoker.

In small doses, nicotine acts as a stimulant. According to Medical News Today, nicotine is as difficult to give up as heroin. And while nicotine itself is not as dangerous as heroin, it can lead to serious dependence — which can turn nonsmokers into smokers.

Nicotine can lead to potentially dangerous side effects. Irregular heartbeat, nausea, nervousness, and more have come from the addictive substance. Vaping is looked at as a safe alternative to smoking, but the potential for a serious nicotine addiction to develop has the FDA up in arms.

Millions of teens have picked up vaping as a hobby

Vaping is more popular today than it was a year ago, and it has passed cigarettes by a mile as far as popularity goes. And while it’s better to vape than to smoke a cigarette, minors are getting their hands on these Juul pods and other e-cigs and developing serious nicotine addictions at an incredibly young age. According to a survey from January 2018, 13% of eighth graders admitted to vaping, and nearly 30% of high school seniors have vaped. And the numbers are only rising. Now, organizations such as the FDA are worried about the potential effects something like this might have on younger generations.

Now, the FDA is doing something about it

The problem with this vaping epidemic is this: E-cigs have gotten into the hands of minors. And now, the FDA is giving the makers of e-cigs and vapes 60 days to prove they can prevent minors from gaining access to the devices. (Stores across the country have been caught illegally selling devices to minors.) The FDA has threatened to remove vapes from the market if their makers can’t come up with a way to prevent underage people from using them. Plus, makers could be faced with criminal charges for allowing bulk sales online. (If someone buys in bulk, it’s a sign that they’re buying for those who can’t purchase one for themselves, such as minors.)

“JUUL Labs will work proactively with FDA in response to its request,” a spokesperson for the company told Cheat Sheet. “We are committed to preventing underage use of our product, and we want to be part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people.”

The spokesperson also noted the company has taken several initiatives to combat underage use.

The New York Times reported the FDA has also sent out more than 1,100 warning letters to companies such as Walgreens, Shell, and 7-Eleven about selling e-cigarettes to minors. The FDA also implemented hundreds of fines, some more than $11,000, for illegal sales to minors.

The FDA is hoping to stop the vaping addiction in its tracks — at least for minors — and prevent creating an entirely new generation of nicotine-addicted people.

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