Local doctor warns parents of dangers of Juul e-cigarettes

WESTWOOD, Mass. — A local pediatrician is taking aim at electronic cigarettes that are so discrete parents might not even realize what they are.

The Juul is so popular it’s on back order at Vape Daddy’s in Newton, and Dr. Lester Hartman of Westwood Mansfield Pediatrics says part of the appeal is that it looks like a flash drive for a computer, and can even be charged by USB.

“I'm seeing kids starting to get this - I'm seeing the marketing has entered into the kids and I'm seeing parents have no idea about these things,” Hartman said.

Hartman says smoking one Juul is equal to an entire pack of cigarettes, and he’s concerned because the carcinogens in the device include propylene glycol, the same chemical as anti-freeze.

“We don't know what that does to a fetus - we don't know what it does to a little kid being exposed,” Hartman said.

The Juul costs $49.99 for a starter kit & can be ordered online. It appears you need only to check a box to confirm you're 18.

“Well kids lie. they just press that and bam and you go get a Visa gift card,” Hartman said. “You know you avoid your parents credit card.”

But Vape Daddy's says there are policies in place when the Juul is delivered through the mail. Owner Stacy Poritzky, a mother of four, says “Juuling” is better than the alternative of cigarettes.

“Vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol have both been approved as additives for food. There has not been sufficient testing on inhaling it but we know that a cigarette, an analog cigarette, has 60 known carcinogens,” she said.

Dr. Hartman wrote an email to all of the parents in his practice encouraging them to contact school principals and ask them to start enforcing the rules and suspend students are caught Juuling.

Juul Labs issued a statement to Boston 25 News which says in part: "Minors should not use any nicotine product, including ours. JUUL was created for adult smokers of legal age only and we strive to keep our product out of the hands of minors. Recent science raises concerns about the adverse effects of nicotine on adolescent neurodevelopment."