JUULs: The millennials’ cigarettes

Veronica Wernicke, Assistant Opinion Editor

Editor’s Note: Veronica Wernicke is a freshman at UNCW majoring in Communication Studies and is the assistant opinion editor for The Seahawk. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Veronica Wernicke may be found on Twitter @itsveronica98. All suggestions and inquiries may be sent via email to [email protected]

In the 50s and 60s it was “cool” to smoke cigarettes. In 2017 and 2018 it is supposedly “cool” to smoke JUULs — no it is not. If you are a current college student, a millennial or know any then you are all too familiar with JUULs. JUULs or e-cigarettes became popular over this past summer. Now it seems you cannot walk two feet on a college campus or college town without seeing someone smoking one.  

Following my logical inferences, it makes sense for people trying to stop smoking cigarettes to start using e-cigarettes to wean themselves off the very addictive activity. This is anything but true for most college students who use JUULs because everyone else is; bandwagoners if you will.   

I would not have as much of a problem if wanting to quit was the reason for the sudden surge in JUULs. Nevertheless, my peers disappoint me once again and all in the hopes of appearing “cool.” I for one, hope this trend last as long as frozen yogurt restaurants. I have gone from the shocked phase of seeing the rise of JUULs to the annoyed phase of seeing them all the time. 

According to the official JUUL website, their mission for their product is “a real alternative to cigarettes. JUUL is for adult smokers seeking a satisfying alternative to cigarettes. The JUUL vaporizer has regulated temperature control and uses nicotine salts as found in the tobacco leaf rather than free-base nicotine, unlike standard e-cigarettes. These qualities are unique to JUUL. By accommodating cigarette-like nicotine levels, JUUL provides satisfaction to meet the standards of smokers looking to switch from smoking cigarettes”.

A concerning aspect is the highly addictive nature with which college students use them. I know several people who go through their JUULpods very quickly. I once overheard someone say they went through their whole pack of JUULpods — which contains four pods — in just a weekend. If that does not speak to their highly addictive nature I am not quite sure what else will.  

I also find it surprising that college students are willing to pay the price of a JUUL and its pods. For people who claim they are “poor” they sure do have strange spending priorities. The average JUUL is around $49.99 and a standard pack of JUULpods is $15.99. So, say you buy a JUUL at the beginning of the month. You have already spent $49.99 without tax and you go through a standard pack of JUULpods in about a week. So, $15.99 times four and you are roughly spending $113.95 to start off with and then $64.96 each month — without tax — to fit in with the “in crowd.”  

With the alarming rate of use among millennials, it begs the question of health factors and risks. 

According to an interview with Oberlin College substance addiction researcher Meghan Morean in an NPR article, “The long-term effects of vaping e-liquids — a solution of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, flavors and nicotine or hash oils – are still not known, says Morean, who is an author on the study. However, researchers are skeptical that the vapor is harmless. “You’re still breathing in like hot chemicals into your body,” she says.

The NPR article also notes that most researchers are worried about nicotine. E-cigarettes — like JUULs — can contain high levels of nicotine. To add to the addictive nature, JUULs feature “fun” flavors like mango, fruit melody, cool mint, along with many others. All which draw in millennials who do not want “tobacco mouth.” This is interesting in consideration that the Food and Drug Administration placed a ban on flavored cigarettes and tobacco, according to an NPR article.   

This is extremely concerning that these flavors target young people, especially when there is so little research available on the effects of e-cigarettes. We have little to no idea how this affects our bodies and that is a daunting thought. According to the JUUL website, one JUULpod is roughly equal to one pack of cigarettes.  

So, to those people who go through four pods in a week, you are practically going through four packs of cigarettes a week. That is a mind-blowing fact and I am sure that most JUUL users are unaware of that fact which is all the more frightening. It is one thing to put something into your body but it is another thing when you have no idea what kind of damage — if any — it is having on your body.   

Please be smarter and healthier than your peers. Get addicted to something that is still cool and actually good for you like yoga, volunteering or cooking. The uncertainty and possible long-term effects of smoking JUULs are not worth the “cool” factor.

Do you use a JUUL?

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