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Quitting E-Cigarettes May Be Harder Than Quitting Traditional Cigarettes, Experts Warn

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The high concentration of nicotine in e-cigarette cartridges for JUUL and other products, combined with the ability for individuals to covertly vape all day, may increase withdrawal problems and make it much harder to wean addicted teenagers off of vaping than it does to get individuals to quit smoking, some experts warn.

In a report published on October 14 in the New York Times, a number of doctors and health experts warn that quitting e-cigarettes and shaking a vaping addiction may be harder than quitting traditional cigarettes.

The warning comes as federal health officials continue to investigate reports of severe respiratory problems linked to vaping, which has now claimed the life of at least one minor, and as the public gains increasing awareness about the epidemic-level of teen e-cigarette addiction problems in the U.S.

About 1,300 people nationwide have fallen ill to respiratory injuries linked to vaping in recent months, including about 20 deaths, according to the latest report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last week, a 17-year-old boy from the Bronx, New York, became the first death of a child due to the outbreak, which investigators are beginning to believe is mostly caused by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) use in vaping products.

The death highlights growing concerns not just in the illnesses, but about rampant use of e-cigarettes among teens. A recent federal survey found that a quarter of all U.S. high school students admit they vaped within the last 30 days.

The epidemic of teen vaping has highlighted the risk of nicotine addiction among the nation’s youth. The most popular vaping products and devices, sold under the JUUL label, involve cartridges with a crystalized form of nicotine some say is highly addictive. In addition, each pod is about the equivalent to a pack of cigarettes, and teens often report going through at least a pod per day.

Experts in the Times story indicate this is causing a much deeper rate of addiction than traditional cigarettes among teens. Teenage smokers rarely smoke an entire pack of cigarettes per day, and even then they have to do so in certain spaces so as not to get caught or, at least, due to restrictions on where one can smoke.

However, JUUL products in particular are designed to allow teens to vape discreetly. They look like USB drives and emit no vapor. This means teens are more likely to be able to vape any time they want a hit, increasing their addiction and the physiological need.

These factors may result in stronger addictions.

Some doctors say quitting vaping is going to be harder for teenagers, causing stronger withdrawal pangs, headaches, irritability, and making them feel sick to their stomach. One doctor who had seen cases of it said it was something he had never seen with traditional cigarettes and had to write letters to school allowing children to wear nicotine patches or chew nicotine gum as they fought to shake their addiction.

Vaping Concerns

Given its popularity among teens and the growing threat of vaping addictions, U.S. regulators and health officials have also been examining the widespread marketing of JUUL and other devices. They say marketing has been directed towards teens and children in recent years, fueling the widespread use of e-cigarettes in the United States.

A recent study indicated that e-cigarette advertising reaches 80% of middle and high school students in the U.S. Another study warns that vaping during adolescence quadruples a teen’s risk of becoming a cigarette tobacco smoker later.

On September 9, the FDA issued a warning letter to JUUL, indicating there was evidence it told school-aged children that its products were safer than cigarettes, which has not been proven.

JUUL has since halted all advertising in the United States, and it’s CEO has stepped down.

Now, a number of families JUUL addiction lawsuits, after they were unable to quit e-cigarrette habits. The claims typically involve teens and young adults whose first use of nicotine came through the e-cigarettes, resulting in a life-long habit that also carries serious health risks.

Several school districts have also filed claims, saying JUUL’s marketing resulted in economic damages as districts had to shuffle resources to fight the growing addiction problems.

Earlier this month a panel of federal judges consolidated all JUUL lawsuits filed in federal courts before one judge for pretrial proceedings. JUUL cases pending throughout the federal court system will all be consolidated before Judge William H. Orrick III in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which is where JUUL Labs, Inc.’s San Francisco headquarters are located, and where five of the earliest complaints were filed.

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