Rejecting the Juul
Written by Antara Nag-Chaudhuri
You may have seen the catchphrase “A healthier alternative to smoking” when describing the sleek, USB-shaped vaping device known as the Juul. Its target of choice? Millennials and Generation Z. However, reports are identifying that contrary to popular belief, the Juul is not as healthy as users think. The Juul was marketed towards teens as they sold fruity flavors to capture the eyes of young, non-smokers. The target population of the Juul was supposed to be for people with “pre-existing relationships to nicotine.” To no one’s surprise, the device is being abused by teens who smoke it to fit a social trend. Unfortunately, this trend has cost them their health and wellbeing, and these people are now paying the price. In the past month, news stories have surfaced describing a series of lung infections that have ravaged teens in 22 states. Their symptoms included seizures, shortness of breath, fever, and a slew of other respiratory infections. There have even been nine tragic cases of death due to vaping (CNET). Because of these tragedies, there has been an extreme backlash towards the popular vaping device. The Trump administration agreed to pull flavored e-cigarettes from markets. The Governor of Massachusetts announced a ban on all vaping products- and the CDC is investigating the Juul very thoroughly. Ex-users are even filing lawsuits targeted at the Juul due to their damaged lungs.
More users are becoming wary of the negative health effects and are choosing to dispose of their Juuls. Videos and pictures online show that they have been flushing their Juuls down the toilet, throwing them out of windows- even throwing them into lakes. An interview from The Verge came out with an interview of high Schooler, Henry Korman who destroyed his Juul and found interest in a less dangerous substance. His substance of choice... vegetables. “I carry around this big bag of sugar snap peas to keep me occupied and replace the Juul, I used to say ‘phone, keys, wallet, Juul’ — that’s what I needed to have before I left the house. But now it’s ‘phone, keys, wallet, peas.” (The Verge). While it is a very unconventional way to quit vaping, Henry Korman has taken initiative to end his addiction.
Many of those ex-users are even starting anti-vaping campaigns to raise awareness of the negative effects of Juuling. Teenager, Simah Herman ended up in the hospital after her vaping addiction, and has started an anti-vaping campaign. She was hospitalized for pneumonia after vaping “a cartridge a day” and the doctors discovered the damage in her lungs was in fact from vaping. When she was hospitalized, she was unable to speak, so she held a sign that stated “I want to start a no vaping campaign”, in hopes that this will impact teenagers about the negative health risks regarding vaping (ABC News).
Essentia Health has also launched an anti-vaping campaign called “Don’t Blow It.” (Brainer Dispatch). They included kits with educational brochures and posters that have hopes of ending the vaping epidemic. Hopefully, other companies will follow along in Essentia Health’s footsteps and start campaigns to end vaping.
After I conducted a recent Instagram poll asking my followers if they had quit vaping due to the recent news stories of vaping-related illnesses, an overwhelming majority voted yes- 78% to be exact. These numbers show the increasing awareness towards vaping and the severity of these health issues. Hopefully these numbers increase as people realize the health risks due to their choice to vape. However, it is relieving to see the initiative that people are taking to ameliorate their health after disturbing news articles surfaced.
Adding to the Juul epidemic is how easily accessible nicotine products are to teenagers. “I went in [to the store] and I was like, ‘Can I get a pack of Juul pods?’ And they were like, ‘How old are you?’ And I said, ‘22,’ and they were just like, ‘OK,’” Simah Herman said (ABC News). Teenagers can easily get their hands on Juul pods. The ability to acquire these nicotine products has definitely contributed to the vaping epidemic. With such easy access, it is simple to keep purchasing Juul pods and eventually get addicted. Studies say, teenagers are 16x more likely to utilize Juul products than older people. This can be attributed partly to the how accessible they are to them (Truth Initiative). Older people are clearly not interested in fitting into teenage trends, and therefore did not turn to Juuling.
The problem lies in the lack of information regarding vaping. Many switched to vaping as a method of quitting cigarettes, however, those people are now switching back to cigarettes due to the uncertainty of the health risks. Cigarettes have confirmed health risks, while vaping does not. Through investigations and more unfortunate incidents, doctors will be able to gauge what the exact health risks are and how healthy Juul is exactly.
The bottom line, and I urge all readers to listen, is to minimize or even quit vaping as soon as possible. Not all of the health risks have been identified yet and it is most wise to dispose of your Juul, in the most environmentally conscious way.