In today’s college environment, it isn’t hard to spot a Juul on campus. Students don’t just use these tiny vaping devices at parties anymore — they can be found Juuling alone in their dorms, in dining halls, and even in campus libraries. The device is small, easy to transport and comes in flavors ranging from vanilla to watermelon.
But what are in Juuls? Many students try to claim “it’s just vapor,” yet studies show otherwise. The FDA released a statement affirming, “The nicotine in these products can rewire an adolescent’s brain, leading to years of addiction.”
Didn’t society go through this already? Leading up to the early 2000s, adults were highly unaware of the dangers and addiction rates of nicotine, as smoking cigarettes was often considered “cool” and the thing to do through most of the twentieth century.
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Juuls and other vaping devices were designed, after all, to help adults stop smoking cigarettes. The Juul is specifically aimed at kids, however, and the FDA has already issued 40 warnings to retailers for selling vaping devices to those under 21.
In response to this, Juul Labs claimed it agreed with the FDA its product should not be sold to those under 21. The reality, however, is Juuls are increasingly popular among young adults, as it was reported 19 percent of high school seniors, 12 percent of high school sophomores and even 9 percent of eighth graders have reported vaping nicotine in the past year. This statistic is no doubt even greater among college students, where students are independent of their parents and constantly pressured to keep up with their peers in their consumption of alcohol and use of drugs.
The company behind the product, Juul, increased its revenue by nearly 700 percent last year, reaching $224.6 million. The e-cigarette market, in comparison, grew by 40 percent last year, reaching a total revenue of $1.16 billion.
Several U.S. senators, led by Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, sent a letter to Juul last week requesting more information on their ingredients and marketing, as well as ultimately urging the company to do more to prevent its product from reaching young people. Overall, however, it seems not much is being done to stop this trend.
There have often been jokes made on social media regarding the fact Juul use could potentially lead to future nicotine addiction. The reality of this, however, is no joking matter.
Students have expressed feelings of addiction toward their Juul, complaining they can’t go a few hours without it and feeling reliant on it to get through their day. This is frightening and dangerous.
Students need to learn the real consequences of Juuls if they want to avoid nicotine addiction, and while the FDA’s warnings toward retailers are a good first step, the government needs to become more involved to truly eliminate this problem. Dick Durbin’s efforts to reach out to Juul itself is a good idea, yet it seems the company is not effectively responding to the government’s warnings, and they don’t really care their product is being used among kids.
More use of the product means more money for the company, so of course, they’re not going to crack down on adolescent use. When the danger of cigarettes was finally understood by much of society, it was thought the use of nicotine would decrease significantly. The introduction of vaping and the Juul, specifically, though could result in the opposite effect, potentially leading today’s youth to repeat their parents’ mistakes at a heightened speed.
Courtney Degen ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in political science and intending to major in journalism.