A “quit smoking aid” named JUUL is being used by young people to get their “nic fix” in junior high schools, high schools and colleges around the country, but few parents, counselors and other authority figures understand the phenomenon or just how common it is. JUULing is when you use a vaporizer to inhale nicotine products from a vaporizer made by JUUL, a manufacturer of nicotine products. It’s hard to catch users in the act because once exhaled, the vapers disappear into thin air, leaving only a small hint of the smell behind. Many of the products sold for “vaping” also have other scents added to them, such as berry or floral. These smells can easily be mistaken for ordinary perfume.

Unfortunately, “JUULing,” as its called, is the new smoking. The website tells users that one JUUL pod is equivalent to an entire pack of cigarettes. JUUL isn’t the only manufacturer of vaping pens, but they are the most popular among young people.

Anecdotally, vaping nicotine is highly addictive, and science has proven this over and over again in countless research studies.

Social media users tell stories of people who vaped for a few years and already have cancer, but these stories are unverified right now. No studies are yet available on the dangers of vaping nicotine, but there are hundreds of studies on the effects of smoking. Most users view JUULing as less harmful. After all, the JUUL products were meant to be sold to nicotine addicts looking for a way to give up smoking cigarettes for good.

Many users believe JUUL’s pods contain a less harmful substance than what cigarettes contain – but each pod contains nicotine, and any other ingredients are unknown. (Legally, at this time, ingredients do not need to be listed.) Users are also supposed to be 21 years of age to purchase the pens and pods, but with the nature of the internet, there’s no asking for an identification card. And while currently unregulated, the practice is viewed by health officials as just as bad for your health as smoking, although few users believe this to be true.

Instead of lighting up, young people use a “vape pen” that comes in multiple neon colors. The pen is discreet and charges directly from a laptop, making it easy to conceal from school administrators and the prying eyes of parents. The contents that are vaped from the JUUL device comes from what the company calls a pod – and the pod is where the nicotine comes from.

The JUUL (vaporizer) looks like a thumb drive and is easy to hide in plain sight.

If you think your child is using a JUUL or you want to see what it looks like, here’s a .pdf from a school district that has been trying to educate parents on what to look for.

If your child is using JUUL pens and pods, you may want to speak with an addiction counselor to help them find the best way to quit. Nicotine is highly addictive, and it is difficult for a person to stop using nicotine on their own.