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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Brown chapter.

Have you scrolled through Snapchat discover lately? Have your friends been sending you alarming articles with pictures of collapsed lungs, supposedly as a result of Juuling? It’s hard to ignore the recent epidemic in e-cigarette use among teens and college students. Juul, especially, is everywhere. The company, worth 38 billion dollars, initially marketed its product as a safer alternative to cancer-causing cigarettes. It was a way for people (mostly adults) to stop smoking. However, it soon overtook the younger, non-smoking population. High schoolers as well as middle-schoolers have picked up the bad habit, and are now addicted to nicotine. Juul CEO Kevin Burns has claimed that they “are committed to deterring young people, as well as adults who do not currently smoke from using [their] products.” Whether this is true or not, they certainly have not yet succeeded. And the stakes are getting higher as the death toll of vape- related illnesses rises. Will the e-cigarette industry be the new big tobacco? Afterall, Juul recently appointed a new CEO who was a major player in the tobacco industry. 

It’s hard to know what to believe and who to trust in an era of fake news, especially in light of unsubstantiated rumors that some of the reports of vaping related illnesses were fabricated by competitors in the tobacco industry. However, here is what we do know: e-cigarettes have only been around for about a decade, but it wasn’t until 2015 that they became widely popular with the launch of Juul. It was a very lucrative market with a product that is chemically addictive, and there weren’t as many restrictions compared to cigarettes. Now, we are just beginning to see the ramifications and dangers associated with vaping. We are beginning to learn what we didn’t know.

The Mystery Illnesses

The recent controversy over Juul has culminated around an increasing death toll with the new mystery e-cig related illnesses. So far, dozens have died and a couple thousand have been hospitalized due to lung injuries as a result of vaping. It’s no wonder Juul is planning to let 500 people go by the end of the year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This illness can develop rapidly or over a few weeks, with symptoms like coughing, chest pain, weight loss, fevers, and more. Patients can recover, but they usually need ventilation, intubation, or even more extreme measures. Many of these patients were using illegal, unregulated e-cigarette products, mostly ones with THC, but some patients do claim they solely used Juul, a regulated, THC-free e-cigarette product.

The Juul Ban

Juul is not actually banned, of course, but the Trump administration has stopped the sale of any non-tobacco flavors in an effort to curb nicotine addiction, amongst teenagers especially. Many health organizations, including the FDA, do warn people to stop vaping during the investigations of these illnesses. Still, many health professionals agree that Juul may not be the biggest culprit. Rather, it is the unregulated, homemade, and illegal vapes and e-cigarettes, particularly those with THC, that are the issue, at least for now. We just don’t know a lot yet, especially about Juul. For now, if you own a Juul, you should definitely quit, but there’s no need to get completely hysterical. 


Nora is the Campus Correspondent for Brown University's chapter. She is a Junior from New York studying Applied Math-Economics. Her interests are writing, painting, and playing tennis.
Caleigh is the Co-Campus Correspondent of the Brown University chapter of Her Campus. She is in the class of 2021 studying History and French. She has previously held an internship position at Latina Magazine and worked as a social media editor for the Brown Daily Herald. She currently works as a digital marketing consultant for SiO Beauty. Caleigh grew up in New York City, where in her free time she explored neighborhoods looking for the best sushi and pizza, sharing her experiences through her food Instagram @food_overdudes.