Trend Alert: JUUL e-cigarette phenomenon sweeps across KU

By Alexis Murray
Contributing Writer

The JUUL is the latest smoking trend to go viral across high school and college campuses.

Students say the USB shaped e-cigarette is discreet, powerful and easy to use, but it has parents and state health officials concerned.

JUUL is a brand of e-cigarette that uses a temperature regulation system to heat a nicotine-based liquid. According to the JUUL website, their mission is to “eliminate cigarettes by offering existing adult smokers with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes.”

Unlike cigarettes, the creators say that JUULs produce minimal byproduct and the vapor quickly dissipates into the air. Users say this makes it easier to use inside, even though most places prohibit it.

“Oh man, I love it!” said Kevin Meizanis, a KU junior. “I take that thing with me everywhere, and it’s easy to take a quick puff then shove it back into your pocket.”

The JUUL manufacturers say they don’t want their products being used by minors, and they don’t want non-smokers to get hooked.

“We strongly condemn the use of our products by minors, and it is, in fact, illegal to sell our product to minors,” the company said on its website. “No minor – or non-nicotine user – should be in the possession of JUUL. In fact, we clearly state on our package labeling that JUUL is for adult smokers only and contains nicotine.”

As of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration requires all newly regulated tobacco products to have a nicotine addictiveness warning statement on the packages.

A JUUL charging in a KU student’s USB port. Photo courtesy of Katelyn Melder, The Keystone

Critics note the JUUL’s sleek design, flavors—including mango, cool mint, fruit medley, and crème brûlée—and powerful buzz may be helping to get teens hooked.

Some parents say they may not even recognize the flash drive-shaped device.

“It looks just like a flash drive,” said Tanya Jones, age 37, from Fleetwood, Pa. “My son is 16 years old and most of his friends have a JUUL. It seems like things really blew up.”

While some believe that JUULs are much healthier than the traditional cigarette, they do contain nicotine. According to the JUUL website, one pod is equivalent to about one pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs.

“The FDA has not approved any e-cigarette as a safe or effective method to help smokers quit,” according to the American Lung Association. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control found that the use of e-cigarettes rose from 1.5 percent to 16 percent among high school students from 2011-2015.

When contrasting it with cigarettes, some students say the best part about the JUUL is that it doesn’t leave a heavy tobacco smell—and it’s easy to use.

“It’s a stress reliever,” said Joel Caban, a KU freshman. “It doesn’t smell like a cig and I can easily use it in my car.”


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