Juul: Is It Worth the Risks?

Chris Nobles, Reporter

  “It’s cuul to Juul in schuul,” commented an anonymous student.  But is it really? 203 students responded to a recent poll conducted by the Lancer Ledger on Juul use.  Some of the replies to the poll were shocking. We discovered a little under one half of the respondents, 41 percent, had tried inhaling from a Juul. But what exactly is Juuling and are students aware of the health risks they may cause?

    A Juul is a little rectangular vape around the size of a stick of gum that resembles a flash drive. According to www.juul.com, Juul was created to be a satisfying alternative to cigarette and to improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers. “We envision a world where fewer people use cigarettes, and where people who smoke cigarettes have the tools to reduce or eliminate their consumption entirely, should they so desire,” reads their mission statement.   

Juul offers no non-nicotine devices and one juul cartridges nicotine content equals 200 puffs of a cigarette. Juul devices create vapors from oil cartridges, some in flavors like mango, mint, and crème brûlée. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently threatened to ban the sale of flavored cartridges due to their appeal to minors.  As result, Juul suspended the sale of most of their flavored pods in retail stores and discontinued some of its social media promotions.

Juul’s website has the warning that their product contains nicotine and nicotine is an addictive chemical.  However, our survey revealed that many students feel Juul is a safe alternative to cigarettes. Some students aren’t concerned about getting a nicotine addiction because they are already addicted to the buzz nicotine gives them. This means some students are already hooked on nicotine which, according to truthinitiative.org, is harmful to youth brain development. According to the Center for Disease Control, “Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.” Additionally, scientists are still learning about the long term effects of e-cigarettes and Juuls on the lungs and body.

 182 students in our survey said they are aware of the health risks of Juul, but 81 students responded that it didn’t deter them from Juuling.  While one student stated, “Health Risks and beliefs keep me from Juuling,” and another commented, “Juuling and smoking are both disgusting and make me sad that other people use them,” an anonymous freshman reported that, “Juuling helps me calm down when I can’t smoke.  Yeah, I’m young…but I’m fully aware of the risks and I’m okay with them because it is the easiest and best solution for a lot of my problems.”

    Many other students seem to choose to Juul just to fit in.  “I believe that a big part of this is that kids want to look cool or fit in, which is a huge problem and one that would be hard to solve.  Even when shown risks some people don’t care,” commented a survey participant.

It is common to walk into a boy’s bathroom and find a group of students Juuling.  In fact 38 students responded that they own a Juul and 33 students admitted to Juuling during school.  Several students even commented that they would like the school to start a smokers lounge and proposed the question, “Why are there toilets in the Juul room?”

School Resource Officer Montes reports that he catches kids here and there. Sometimes he’ll go weeks without seeing anyone juuling in the school but the the next he’ll find a group of kids enjoying a mango pod early in the morning. Just like cigarettes, Juuls, e-cigarettes, and vapes are illegal for anyone under 18.  Students caught Juuling on school property receive a detention and are subject to a $50 fine from the district judge.

Knowing all this raised a question: How are students getting juuls? Many of the students that Juul are under the age of 18 therefore they cannot purchase one over the counter. Under-aged students that were interviewed reported that they obtained their juul by ordering them online using an untraceable a Visa gift card or by buying them off their older aged friends who can purchase them for them.  Some of our survey respondents reported that their parents approve of their vaping and have even purchased their Juul for them.

   Many students who have juuled however don’t even own one. Much like peer pressure from cigarettes,  juuling seems to be passed on from friends. In this way, they can test if they believe juuling is right for them. After learning some of the facts about juuling, it’s up to each student to decide if breaking the law and the health risks of Juuling are worth it.   

But as one survey respondent commented, “I try not to look down on people for doing it, but I’m not going to tell people that they should stop because they chose to do something bad for them. They have to deal with the risks,” it may take their own personal courage to just say no.