When sophomore Tiffany Yang vaped half of her Juul pod in one day, she threw up from the high amounts of nicotine. Since then, she’s vomited twice more from overusing the device, but she, and many other Chapman students, continue to use Juuls.
(People) assume you’re cool if you’re Juuling. It’s a statement.”
A Juul is an e-cigarette that provides users with a strong dose of nicotine, and it has gained popularity among younger generations. Although Juul’s website claims that the product is not meant for minors, the company recognizes that underage use of its products is an issue. In 2016, Chapman became a smoke-free campus, including vaping and using e-cigarettes, but many students continue to Juul and vape on campus.
“When I walk to class, I see people Juuling all over the place,” said Chiara Squillantini, a sophomore business administration major. “It’s very common at Chapman. If you go to Starbucks and you’re sitting outside, you’ll see a lot of people Juuling in the corner.”
The e-cigarette device was designed to help those struggling to quit smoking regular cigarettes, and it’s not intended for people who haven’t smoked before, according to JUUL Labs. Still, its sleek appearance can attract college students and other young people, something the company calls “a persistent problem.”
“(People) assume you’re cool if you’re Juuling. It’s a statement,” Yang said. “Everyone wants a Juul because it’s recognizable, attractive and cool. It’s small and you can only charge it through a USB, so in that sense, it really is targeted for our generation.”
For Squillantini, using her Juul is less about getting the nicotine headrush, and more about having something to do, similar to the purpose of a fidget spinner. She said she Juuls before and after class, before she goes to bed, and first thing in the morning.
“I’m not sure I would say that I’m addicted, but it’s just so easy that, if it’s in front of me, I’ll do it,” she said. “If I had something that was similar with no nicotine, I’d still use it. At this point, I don’t get a headrush every time. It’s a gadget that gives me something to do.”
Marketing the product as a cigarette replacement can be dangerous for younger generations who have never smoked, said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a pediatrics professor at Stanford University.
“A lot of younger people were not smoking cigarettes in the first place, so it’s being used as a brand new product,” Halpern-Felsher told The Panther. “That’s scary. There’s a lot of harm in doing that.”
Each Juul pod contains 59 milligrams of nicotine, which is the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes, according to the Juul website. Although the Juul hasn’t been on the market long enough for its long-term effects to be studied, Halpern-Felsher said that researchers believe it will follow the same effects as other vaping devices, as well as the general effects of nicotine, such as addiction and difficulty exerting energy and breathing.
The pods’ flavor options, like creme brulee and mango, also contribute to Juul’s popularity among younger crowds.
“They actually taste good, which is appealing,” Squillantini said. “I’ll be shopping and think that I want to try a new flavor, and then I want to try another, so I keep buying them and using them.”
Yang’s tolerance to the nicotine headrush has also increased, but she uses her Juul because it’s convenient and trendy – and its small size makes it easy for people to use in class without anyone noticing.
“Most of the time, I don’t even get a headrush anymore,” she said. “I still hit my Juul because I like the vape coming out and it gives me something to play with. Our society is always into something, and Juuls are the next big thing. Everyone wants one.”
Yang believes that Juul’s marketing is effective, as it makes the device seem harmless and trendy.
“Cigarettes are known to hurt people, and we’ve seen the scary commercials and have heard what they do to people, but Juuls are used by cool people like YouTubers and people who are considered popular,” she said. “It doesn’t seem risky. Even on their Instagram, Juul uses people who look young and trendy in their pictures with their products. You’re not dirty if you Juul; you’re cool.”