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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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A JUUL takeover

Tristan Shoemaker ’20 uses a JUUL. PHOTO: LUKE MALANGA ’20/THE HAWK

New e-cigarette gains popularity on college campuses

A new trend has taken off on college and high school campuses called JUULing, a discreet e-cigarette originally made for adults trying to quit smoking.

The JUUL, a small, sleek, rectangular stick that almost looks like a USB drive, is what college and high school students are using instead of cigarettes to get their nicotine fix.

“The JUUL Labs’ mission is to eliminate cigarettes by offering existing adult smokers with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes,” according to the product website.

Tristan Shoemaker ’20 said JUUL helped him kick his addiction to cigarettes.

“I didn’t feel the buzz anymore from tobacco products, so I switched to something that still gave me the nicotine that made my body crave, but the buzz that my mind wanted,” Shoemaker said, with his JUUL present in his hand.

Many students are using the JUUL not to quit smoking but because it is a trend that caught on and students want to feel like they are like everyone else.

“It’s a fad,” said Audrey D’Amico ’21, who bought a JUUL when she came to college. “Everyone wants to do it because it’s cool, and then I think they actually get addicted to JUULing but they actually don’t know it and are doing it just for the fun of it.”

A JUUL pod contains 0.7mL with 5 percent nicotine by weight, approximately equivalent to one pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs, according to the product website.

Katie Bean, assistant director of Student Outreach and Support and Wellness, Alcohol & Drug Education (WADE) Program, said that using a JUUL is still not good for someone’s lungs, even if it isn’t smoke from a cigarette.

“It’s still damaging their lungs,” Bean said. “Anything that isn’t oxygen is damaging. People think vaping in general, or JUULing I’m sure it’s the same, is so much safer than cigarettes or so much healthier than cigarettes and I just don’t think it is.”

Other chemicals in a JUUL include glycerol and propylene glycol, which have commonly used humectants in vaporization liquids and is what cigarettes use. It has natural oils, extracts and flavors like Virginia tobacco, cool mint, fruit medley, creme brulee and mango and also contains benzoic acid, a naturally occurring acid found in the tobacco plant, according to the products website.

Dave Dobbins, Chief Operating Officer of the Truth Initiative, compares the difference in smoking a cigarette versus using a JUUL as jumping from a twenty-story building versus jumping from a two-story building.

“It’s not very persuasive to say something is safer than a cigarette,” Dobbins said. “I think with that said, because the cigarette is such a uniquely terrible product it is most certainly true that if you are a pack a day smoker and you can switch to the JUUL instead, you’ve done yourself a big favor health wise.”

Shoemaker believes that it is a way to stop smoking cigarettes or using chewing tobacco but since there is not a lot of research on it he isn’t sure what it’s doing to his health.

“I’d say JUULs are taking over the college campus scene,” Shoemaker said. “Basically everyone that smoked cigarettes or chewed tobacco switched over to a JUUL because there’s not a lot of research done on it, so they can’t really say all the harmful effects. So unfortunately for people like me, I’m kind of JUULing which I really don’t know what it is doing to my body.”

Since the JUUL is marketed to adults, 21 or older, who are trying to quit cigarettes, the company does not approve of minors using their product.

“We strongly condemn the use of our product by minors, and it is in fact illegal to sell our product to minors,” said a JUUL spokesperson. “No minor should be in possession of a JUUL product.”

Bean wants people to know that there are resources on campus for people who want to quit smoking and their addiction to nicotine.

“For one, our office,” Bean said. “I have worked with students in the past who wanted to change their behavior with smoking and we’ll work through helping build that motivation and helping. They can also go to the student health center. They have worked with students in the past as well. Of course there’s the counselling center that always helps with someone wanting a behavioral change.”

Dobbins said that long term effects can’t be determined yet because this is still new.

“I would just point out to people, if you think the thing is harmless and there’s no risks, just keep in mind nobody knows what the long-term risk of using the JUUL is and you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of addiction that literally will do nothing positive for you,” Dobbins said. “I would just encourage people twice before they think it is a good idea.”

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