Written by Barbara Sullivan
I had never heard of Puff Bars until a colleague recently mentioned them. It turns out that Puff Bars are the new kid on the block in the vaping world. Puff Bars are disposable vape products, aka disposable e-cigarettes. They work just like JUUL, but unlike JUUL, Puff Bars are not subject to the new federal regulations for e-cigarettes because they are disposable. While JUUL is busy fighting lawsuits having to do with marketing their product to teens, it was a perfect opportunity for Puff Bars to enter the vaping market. Like JUUL, Puff Bars label their product as containing 5 percent nicotine. What 5 percent means is that each Puff Bar e-cigarette contains 41.3 mg of nicotine, the equivalent of 41 tobacco cigarettes.
There are several brands of these disposables on the market such as E-Puffer, Mr. Vapor, and BIDI. Because they are not regulated by the FDA, the industry is able to market their products with fruity and sweet flavors like orange mango and blueberry ice, which the FDA banned JUUL from manufacturing due to their appeal to the teen market.
What are the health risks for teens who vape? Nicotine increases heart rate, can cause acid reflux. and create breathing problems for the user. Teens are inhaling harmful chemicals into their lungs when they vape. Some of the known chemicals are formaldehyde, acetone, propylene glycol, and arsenic. Stanford University researchers collected data this year to show that teens who vape are at risk for COVID.
Most teens are unaware of the chemicals in a vape aerosol. As adults we can educate teens about the dangers of vaping any type of e-cigarette. We can tell them that none of these chemicals should ever be inhaled into one’s lungs. We can remind them that their teenage brain, which isn’t fully developed, is highly vulnerable to nicotine addiction when they vape. These are simple prevention messages that can open the door to a conversation about the risks of substance use.
Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. As adults and caregivers, we can recommend quitting but keep in mind that most teens can’t quit vaping overnight, especially if they are addicted to vaping.
Here are some suggestions you can make to help teenagers quit vaping.
- Encourage teens to pick a “quit date” and to tell family and friends of their plan to quit• Suggest downloading a phone apps like QuitSTART or MY QUIT
- Plan activities that can help avoid vaping like hiking or going to a movie
- Avoid being around friends who vape
- Plan an exit strategy if you find yourself in the presence of people vaping
Teens who want to quit can also take advantage of This is Quitting, a free and anonymous program offered by Truth Initiative, the country’s largest nonprofit health organization whose mission is to end nicotine addiction and tobacco use. Teens and young adults can join This is Quitting by texting DITCHVAPE to 88709, and parents can find support by texting QUIT to 202-899-7550. To learn more, visit truthinitiative.org.
Barbara Sullivan taught middle school in Maine for 25 years where she designed a middle school substance abuse curriculum for grades 6-8. Barbara has presented at professional conferences on the topic of alcoholism as a family disease. She is currently working as a Prevention Specialist for FCD Prevention Works, a division of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.