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To Juul or not to Juul: The latest trend or a youth epidemic?

by Ethan Altmark The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Byte or Byte's editorial board. Juuling has become extremely popular in the past few years. It’s an easy and simple way to introduce nicotine into your body. With its sleek and modern design, it’s hard to distinguish a Juul from a flash drive if you’ve never seen a Juul before. The only problem? Minors are Juuling at an unprecedented rate. In 2018 the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) referred to the trend of teenagers that Juul as reaching “epidemic proportions.” What does that really mean? Well, according to the Oxford Living Dictionary the definition of an epidemic is a “widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.” So, is the act of Juuling amongst teenagers a real epidemic? Depending on your perspective of whether addiction is a disease or not, the definition may shape your view point.

Image from Juul
The FDA is trying to make the crucial point that Juuls are being consumed by a large quantity of minors whose actions will have negative health impacts on their lives that may lead to lifetime of nicotine addiction. Once these kids are addicted to nicotine they may be Juul customers for life or even progress to real cigarettes. Another overlooked danger according to thetruth.com is that one Juul pod has the equivalent amount of nicotine to one pack of cigarettes. After interviewing close to twenty college students who Juul regularly, my first interviewee said that “I commonly go through at least one to two Juul pods a day, if it’s been a long day maybe two to three.” Another student I interviewed states she “runs through three to four pods a day.” I continued to ask how and when they started using Juuls. A Junior attending Ball State admitted that he started Juuling his senior year of high school when his older sibling gave him his first Juul. Furthermore, a few students went on to say that they enjoy Juuling for the “Nicci Buzz”, local jargon for the slight head rush generated from the nicotine that one gets as they deeply inhale a Juul. Another explanation multiple students gave as to why they Juul is the accurate feeling of smoking cigarettes that not many other e-cigarettes can recreate. After polling this small sample size of Ball State students who Juul, close to half of who I interviewed admitted to feeling addicted to their Juul while the other half believe they can stop whenever they desire. Another statistic I derived from my interviews is that nearly three quarters of those who I spoke to began Juuling in high school. A common theme through every interview was that Juuling is preferred to smoking cigarettes for its simplicity and its ability to be discrete. For adults, to Juul is another luxury of being an adult and accepting the consequences that come with your actions. Unfortunately minors are consuming Juuls as well, so much so that it even grabbed the attention of FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who released statements as a result on The U.S. Food and Drug Association's official website, “Protecting our nation’s youth from the dangers of tobacco products is among the most important responsibilities of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” The FDA is clearly concerned with the increased use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) by minors. The FDA will continue to regulate ENDS as one of their responsibilities is to “protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death.”
Image from New York Times
With the rising popularity of Juuls and E-cigarettes in general, adults and minors should research Juuls and other ENDS to see the positives and negatives of the devices. As for some, Juuls can have a positive impact by helping an individual transition from smoking cigarettes, but can also have a negative impact such as having high rates of minor consumption. Juuls are still a fairly new occurrence on the marketplace and we might not see the full repercussions immediately but as time passes we will continue to learn more about Juuls and their effects on society. Due to its recency and potential lack of regulation many more studies must be conducted to see the ramifications of prolonged Juul usage. Juuls may be here to stay and just like any new form of technology there will be benefits and drawbacks, we must as a society consider the consequences of this latest trend.

Sources:  Truth FDA Juul Featured Image:  Flickr
Images: Juul New York Times