Smoking a Juul (pronounced “jewel”), a new type of vaporizer pen (e-cigarettes that vaporize flavored nicotine “juice”), has become a trend here at Loy Norrix. Everywhere you look someone is blowing their thin, nicotine rich smoke into their sleeve.
Why are they so popular? Is it the new, compact look that makes them so much easier to hide than classic vape pens? Is it the higher nicotine concentration they offer to users? Or is it just a trend, something that will pass shortly? These are questions only a user could answer.
Over spring break I sat down with a self proclaimed Juul addict to discuss this new trend. They’re a freshman at Loy Norrix who just turned fifteen and they spend upwards of 30 dollars a week on “pods,” cartridges you attach to the Juul that contain the nicotine juice users fiend for. This student chose to remain anonymous to avoid their parents finding out about their addiction, but their message remains clear and powerful – Juuls are addictive and bad for your health. According to “My Addiction: Tobacco, Smoking and Nicotine Addiction Statistics and Facts” many diseases are linked to tobacco and nicotine, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, lung cancer, cancer of the kidney, cancer of the larynx and neck, mouth cancer and breast cancer. Not only that, but those who are being affected negatively by this trend are vulnerable young people who may not even realize what they’re getting themselves into.
Reporter: So tell me a little bit about your Juul and how it works. Tell me about the product itself. If you had to explain how to use a Juul to someone who’s never done it before how would you do that?
Anon: You have to get a starter kit. It comes with a Juul, a charger and four pods. A pod is what the juice is in. They’re disposable, you use it once. People do refill them though. You can only buy a pack of four pods and it’s 16 dollars. One pod is the equivalent to the same amount of nicotine in one pack of cigarettes, but it’s cheaper. A lot of people call them [Juuls] the “Apple of vapes” because they’re so simple, you don’t really have to do anything. It looks like a flash drive.
Reporter: Tell me about the first time you smoked a Juul. Why did you do it? Why do you continue to do it?
Anon: The first time was in the lunchroom. Everyone else was hitting it and I was like “alright, I want to try that.” I guess I knew there was nicotine in it, but I had no idea that it had so much. When I hit it for the first time it was, like, really crazy. I felt a really big buzz off of barely anything.
It hurt my throat more than anything else I’ve done. I hit it and coughed immediately. At first it was just fun and it was something that you could do anywhere. It’s so easy. Then it just became something I was doing nonstop, but I still felt a buzz. Now, I go crazy if I don’t have it. I don’t even feel a buzz anymore.
Reporter: What happens when you don’t have it?
Anon: I get really short with people. The only thing on my mind is how can I get pods? How can I tell my parents I’m going somewhere else? When can I get them?
Reporter: Are there any specific instances where you’ve acted in a way you wish you wouldn’t have because you couldn’t get pods?
Anon: I stole money from my parent once. Out of their wallet. I’m not super mean to people or anything. I’ve been one day without pods since the beginning of the year. For the last three months I’ve been one a day, so it’s like a pack of cigarettes everyday. I kind of stop everything else everyone is doing and try and get pods, that’s something I regret.
Reporter: So would you call yourself an addict?
Reporter: What makes you say that?
Anon: I literally cannot go, like, an hour without hitting my Juul. If I don’t have pods, it’s a crisis.
Reporter: Does it interfere with other aspects of your life? What happens when you’re with your parents and need to hit your Juul?
Anon: I hit it. I go in the bathroom. In my dad’s car, I hit it all the time. If I’m in a situation where I’m with a bunch of people and there’s no way I can turn my back or anything, I go to the bathroom. I’m definitely not hungry like I should be. I don’t eat as much as I should anymore because I’m literally always hitting my Juul and nicotine is a really strong appetite suppressant.
Reporter: Do you see yourself smoking your Juul for a long time?
Anon: Yeah. I don’t even want to think about stopping so it’s probably not going to happen. I only cut back when I’m forced to because I don’t have any money.
Reporter: Where do you get money for pods?
Anon: My dad. I borrow money from people sometimes. Obviously my dad doesn’t know I have a Juul. I always tell him that I’m going out somewhere and that I need money.
Reporter: What would you tell someone who is about to hit a Juul for the first time?
Anon: It hurts really bad and you’re going to feel really weird if you’ve never taken a hit. Anyone who owns a Juul is addicted no matter what they say.
According to Time Health, e-cigarettes aren’t quite as safe as they’ve been thought to be in the past. Recent studies that the article highlighted show that e-cigarettes reduce your ability to cough and may expose your body to potentially harmful chemicals. On top of that, different e-cigarette flavors may have different effects. What’s worst? Even though they’ve been marketed to help people quit smoking, they don’t have that effect. The companies selling them, including Juul, know all of this.