Student JUUL addiction poses multiple risks

By Rebecca Jackson, News Editor

A senior walks out of the bathroom, leaving a cloud of smoke in his midst. He checks to make sure no teachers are nearby, and walks back to class. What he was puffing was neither a cigarette nor marijuana, but a JUUL.

JUULs are e-cigarettes for over-21 year olds that contain flavored water vapor and nicotine. Supposedly, they have little to none of the carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) found in cigarettes. However, JUULs have not been approved by the FDA, so it is possible that there are harmful chemicals in JUULs and other vape products. The long-term effects will not be known for years to come.

The irony is that although JUULs are intended to help people stop smoking cigarettes, they are now becoming the cause of an addiction themselves—and to teenagers for that matter. They are decidedly bad for your health, and should not be glorified to any extent.

According to the JUULvapor website, which sells JUULs, each JUUL pod (JUUL’s refillable cartridges of flavored ‘juice’) contains 0.7 mL of e-liquid with five percent nicotine by weight. This is approximately equivalent to 1 pack of cigarettes, or 200 puffs of a JUUL.

Despite JUULs’ original intention as a safer alternative to cigarettes, they have reached a new audience as teenagers have begun using them. ‘It can’t cause cancer’ is the excuse that many teens give as to why it’s okay to smoke JUULs, and is also the reasoning used to peer pressure others into “JUULing.”

According to an Observer survey of 81 students, 17 percent of students regularly use a JUUL, and 20 percent of students have “JUULed’ before, but usually do not.

However, the official JUUL website warns that studies in California found chemicals in JUULs that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

People use JUULs with ease at parties, at school and while walking down the street because although illegal, they seem small and inconspicuous; they resemble USB ports more than a harmful substance. There is not the same stigma of using JUULs that exists with cigarettes, but there should be. Packed into this black rectangle could be a harmful addiction.

According to the Observer survey, 77 percent of students said they think that JUULs are bad for your health.

The number of people who smoke tobacco products in the U.S. now versus twenty years ago has decreased, in part because of how the FDA, school systems and non-profit organizations have educated society about the danger of cigarettes.

According to the National Health Interview Survey, 23 percent of people smoked tobacco products in 2000, versus only 15 percent in 2015. Still, as with any drug, people will use them regardless because of the satisfying side effects.

According to the Observer survey, 6 percent of students regularly smoke cigarettes, and another 7 percent of students have smoked cigarettes before, but usually do not.

Similar to cigarettes, the JUUL’s claim to fame is the “head rush” it provides. Many claim that it’s a soothing feeling, while others experience nausea and intense coughing. But the head rush is not healthy. The sensation is actually a result of nicotine attaching to chemical receptors, forming an addiction. Evidently, if people do not view JUULs as dangerous to their health, then they will not make it a point to quit or limit their use.

The biggest myth about JUULs is that you can’t get addicted. The truth is, if you are constantly JUULing, you will. It is like any other addiction. You feel that you have to keep using it and if you don’t, you will go through withdrawal. JUULs do not contain as much nicotine as cigarettes do, so the withdrawal will not be as intense, but it will definitely still occur. If we hope to decrease the amount of young people using JUULs, we must educate about the dangers of using them. Otherwise, JUULs will become the new cigarettes.