From Juul to Puff Bar: Disposable Vape Pens Are 'Extremely Popular' With Teens : Shots - Health News Despite enforcement efforts to stop teen vaping, kids are getting their hands on a new array of disposable products that come in sweet and fruity flavors.
NPR logo

Parents: Teens Are Still Vaping, Despite Flavor Ban. Here's What They're Using

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/805972087/806599854" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Parents: Teens Are Still Vaping, Despite Flavor Ban. Here's What They're Using

Parents: Teens Are Still Vaping, Despite Flavor Ban. Here's What They're Using

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/805972087/806599854" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Trump administration's partial ban on flavored e-cigarettes is in effect, but there's still plenty of vaping sticks and cartridges on the market. In fact, there's an array of disposable products that come in many appealing flavors and deliver just as much nicotine. Here's NPR's Allison Aubrey.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: If you've raised a teenager, you may not be surprised to learn that teenagers and young adults seem to be a step ahead of regulators. By the time the FDA announced new enforcement efforts and Juul had pulled most flavored pods from the market, many teens had already moved on.

MEREDITH BERKMAN: Juul as a product for teens is almost now old-school.

AUBREY: That's Meredith Berkman, co-founder of PAVe, Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes. She says, disposable products are the new thing. And for now, they're exempted from the FDA's enforcement efforts. They're called disposables because they're designed to be tossed out after one use.

BERKMAN: And among those disposables, which are the most popular, there's Puff Bar, there's Stig, there's Viigo. They're all exempt from that guidance.

AUBREY: To get a reality check, I asked my own teenage son if he'd heard about these disposables. And he said, yeah, like the Puff Bar? Matt Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids showed me how it works.

MATT MYERS: Here, I'm picking up one of the newer products. It's called a Puff Bar. This one comes in pink lemonade.

AUBREY: It's a vape stick, and it looks like a 3-inch-long thumb drive.

MYERS: And when you inhale it, it has a sweet, sugary flavor.

BONNIE HALPERN-FELSHER: The Puff Bar is an extremely popular product.

AUBREY: That's Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a developmental psychologist at Stanford. She says it's hard to know how many teens are using them, but she points to a bag of confiscated vape sticks and pens that a high school principal in Northern California collected recently.

HALPERN-FELSHER: I laid them out. And you can see they're - the majority of them are these disposable products. They come in lots of flavors, lots of colors. And it's very attractive to youth, and that's what we're seeing them using the most right now.

AUBREY: They're easy to conceal, have about 300 puffs in them and can contain the amount of nicotine found in two to three packs of cigarettes.

HALPERN-FELSHER: That's a lot of nicotine.

AUBREY: Cristine Delnevo directs the Center for Tobacco Studies at Rutgers University. She says, given the survey data showing nearly 1 in 4 high school seniors has vaped...

CRISTINE DELNEVO: The data do indicate that there are young high school students that are addicted to these products.

AUBREY: She says the e-cigarette industry has been very creative despite efforts by regulators to stop young people from vaping.

DELNEVO: It's a bit of a game of whack-a-mole. So when policies are aimed at one particular product, another product tends to kind of pop-up to kind of fill the void there.

AUBREY: And as for all the newer flavors that cover up the harsh taste of nicotine...

DELNEVO: Mango ice, pomegranate ice - you'll see the word lush used a lot. I'm not sure what lush tastes like.

AUBREY: Matt Myers says parents and others concerned should be aware of how easy it can be to buy vape sticks and e-liquids despite the partial ban and age restrictions.

MYERS: Right now you can buy e-liquids online, often in websites that are not really age-protected, and increasingly in convenience stores and gas stations.

AUBREY: Meredith Berkman of PAVe says her group and others offer online resources to help parents stay in the loop...

BERKMAN: So before you even sit down with your kid, you have to read up on the latest products, know what they look like, know what the lingo is.

AUBREY: ...Because the landscape is changing quickly.

Allison Aubrey, NPR News.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.