It's Time to Stop Juuling

Hey everyone. As you can see, I’m here today with what might be a controversial opinion - if you’re using Juul, you honestly need to stop.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I had actually never heard of Juul until I came to college last year. As far as I know, it wasn’t a huge deal at my high school, but at the College of Charleston, I feel like I see these things literally everywhere. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid hearing about Juul until now, they’re basically a brand of e-cigarette shaped like a flash drive. Juul is by far the most popular e-cigarette out there, currently making up about 68% of the market[1] with a huge 783% jump in sales just in 2018[2] . And with its sleek design, sweet flavors, and ability to recharge where ever, it’s not hard to see why Juul has earned so many fans. The problem, however, is that many of these fans come in a demographic Juul was never intended to target.

If you try to visit Juul’s website, you’ll get hit with this disclaimer: JUUL Labs’ mission is to eliminate cigarettes. JUUL products are intended for adult smokers who want to switch from combustible cigarettes.” Juul was created to help 21+ cigarette smokers switch to the (somewhat) safer alternative of vaping. But its biggest problem is that it’s hugely popular among young people who were never smoking in the first place, and many of them aren’t legally allowed to use this product at all.

I know, I know - I probably sound like the most boring person on the planet right now. After all, college is about letting loose and having fun, right? But I would honestly rather be boring in this respect, because though vaping may be healthier than traditional cigarettes, it’s still definitely not healthy. Nicotine, no matter how it’s being ingested, is bad news. As we’ve all heard by now, nicotine is extremely addictive. It’s easy to hear the word “addiction” and not understand the reality of it, but it isn’t fun - nicotine withdrawal can cause irritability, anxiety, memory problems, and trouble sleeping[3]. Don’t think you’re not at risk for addiction just because you vape instead of smoke - an ongoing study from Stanford University is finding that young adults who use Juul show signs of dependence on the product[4]. Not to mention, nicotine can “impair brain and lung development[1]” when used as a teen. This impairment includes increased impulsivity, poorer decision-making skills, and a higher risk for dependence on other drugs. All of this is especially concerning considering how popular Juul is becoming with kids as young as middle school.

Juul is perhaps even more dangerous than other e-cigarettes because it has a higher nicotine concentration than most[1]. Just one Juul pod has as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes, and the formula Juul uses, called “nicotine salts”, makes “nicotine more readily absorbed into the bloodstream and makes the vapor less harsh so that it is easier to inhale more nicotine for longer periods of time [1].” And nicotine isn’t the only chemical you have to worry about when it comes to Juul; it also contains higher amounts of benzoic acid than other e-cigarettes, which can cause “coughs, sore throat, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting[1]” with enough exposure.

It’s also worth pointing out that people who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes than those who never vaped in the first place [1]. For a product that was made to help people stop smoking, this is pretty sad, though it’s not exactly surprising. Once you’re hooked on one source of nicotine, it doesn’t take much of a leap to try another one, even if it’s more dangerous.

The bottom line is, nicotine is not good for you in any form. Not to sound like a middle school P.E. teacher, but your health is more important than short-lived fun. It’s easy to get swept up in this big new trend, but the health effects will last long beyond our college years. I’ve already heard friends nonchalantly joke about how they “need nicotine” before rushing into a convenience store just for more Juul pods. I know it’s kind of our generation’s thing to joke about bad habits - not getting enough sleep, procrastinating, etc - but maybe we should start drawing the line somewhere. There are some things we shouldn’t just brush off.

After decades of declining nicotine use in the United States, it’s disturbing to see how common Juuling has become, so much so that the FDA has started cracking down on the manufacturing and sale of these products, especially to underage users [5]. It would be a real shame, after so much progress, for a whole new generation to get hooked on this substance. Nicotine addiction is not cute just because it comes in fruity flavors or glittery “skins”. If you’re not trying to quit smoking, you have no good reason to use Juul. Period.