Hitting the JUUL increases nicotine addiction
A sleek, stylish and powerfully addictive device that resembles a USB drive, the JUUL has undermined years of scientific research, ad campaigns and government regulations committed to nicotine addiction prevention.
JUUL is a type of e-cigarette with one marked difference from run-of-the-mill vapes: the pods contain a cigarette-worthy dose of nicotine, instead of the flavored liquids that come in a variety of nicotine strengths, even zero nicotine.
Nicotine addiction among young people has steadily decreased in the past 20 years. In 2017, six percent of young people reported to be addicted to nicotine. Twenty years ago, it was nearly 25 percent.
This dramatic improvement is the result of anti-smoking campaigns, smoking bans and increased public awareness of the dangers of nicotine addiction.
JUUL advertises its product as something designed for adult smokers to reduce or eliminate their consumption of cigarettes.
However, there has been widespread debate over whether or not this is JUUL’s true intention because of JUUL’s immense popularity among younger audiences. JUULs are most popular among high school and college students, particularly ones who have never smoked before.
“I’ve never smoked a cigarette before,” said a sophomore geography major who is addicted to JUULing.* “In fact, it’s never even crossed my mind.”
JUULs arguably create a more severe nicotine dependence than cigarettes because of their convenience. Users can hit their JUUL indoors without stinking up a room; students also discreetly hit their JUUL in class.
JUUL hit the market as a spin off from PAX Labs in 2015 with moderate success. Then in 2016, JUUL sales boomed, increasing by 700 percent, and JUUL developed a ubiquitous presence on social media.
According to Bloomberg Newsweek, JUUL currently controls nearly 75 percent of the e-cigarette market and is valued at $15 billion.
“I would say that over a quarter of our sales come from the JUUL,” said Cooper Drake, an employee at Pipe Dreams, a smoke shop in Milledgeville. “It’s certainly a thing that’s cool and in style.”
JUUL “pods” contain nicotine, a psychoactive chemical that the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI) deems to be just as addictive as cocaine.
JUULs operate by heating up “pods” full of e-liquid, turning the liquid into aerosol for inhalation.
One pod delivers approximately the same amount of nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. A pack of four pods usually costs $15 to $20.
“It’s just not sustainable,” said the same GC student. “If I’m going through three or four pods every two days, I just can’t afford it anymore. JUULing is too expensive.”
JUUL states that the other chemicals in the pods aren’t toxic, though this is not corroborated by the FDA. Nicotine dependence alone leads to adverse health effects since nicotine is a highly toxic substance.
According to the NCBI, nicotine’s toxicity can lead to, in severe cases, “tremors, prostration, convulsion, [and]... even coma.”
There is no doubt that JUULing is a social activity among young people. JUUL issues several different kinds of flavors of pods, which incentivizes young people to buy more flavors and try other people’s flavors.
Prior generations picked up smoking for the sake of being cool and stylish, the same reasons young people JUUL today, but prior generations were unaware of the health risks of nicotine.
This leaves social scientists and advertisers scratching their heads, wondering why the most educated generation continues to choose this harmful substance.
*The student preferred that their name be omitted.