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JUULing is Taking the World by Storm-Here’s How it Affects You

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JUULing is Taking the World by Storm-Here’s How it Affects You

Nadia Turley, staff writer

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JUULing has taken the world by storm. JUUL is the vape giant that went from zero to $16 billion in three years. Truth Initiative is the largest anti-smoking organization in the United States. Depending on the state, you either have to be 18 or 21 to purchase one legally, but high-schoolers are still managing to get their hands on them. Early on, the company reached plenty of young people on social media with ads of models living their best #vapelife.

There are many ads all over social media that advertise this “fun” and “new” way to quit smoking, but it is sending the wrong message to teens. Teens, that are non-smokers, are juuling just because it’s trendy, but this is very dangerous to their health. Way more dangerous than they are aware of. The company says each JUULpod contains 5 percent nicotine, about as much as a pack of cigarettes.

This past year, school administrations have really cracked down on juuling, and having a JUUL on school grounds. Some schools even banned flashdrives so there is no confusion as juuls highly resemble that of a flashdrive. Juul companies aren’t only receiving backlash from schools, but parents too. The blowback from parents and the press has been severe. In response, JUUL removed models from its feeds, which now only feature ex-smokers sharing their stories. It committed $30 million to fighting underage use of its products. The company also has a secret shopping program to carry out “random compliance checks” to make sure retail stores aren’t selling to minors.

JUUL still claims that their product is not directed for teens, but rather for adults that are trying to quit smoking, but does that actually serve its intended purpose? Tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year, according to the World Health Organization. Several experts — including Koval — say it’s better for people to vape than smoke tobacco cigarettes. But do they actually help people quit? Some studies say they’re effective. On the other hand, a Georgia State University study from July found no evidence that vape use helped adult smokers quit at higher rates than smokers who didn’t vape. For teens, the stakes are even higher. Nicotine addiction could “harm the developing adolescent brain” and cause attention and mood disorders, said Adam Leventhal, director of the University of Southern California’s Health, Emotion, & Addiction Laboratory. And earlier this year, a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found evidence that vaping could lead teenagers to try traditional tobacco cigarettes — the ultimate nightmare for anti-smoking activists.

Will the JUUL companies do anything to make their products safer? Well, somewhat. JUUL said it would widely release mint and “Virginia Tobacco” JUULpods with less nicotine at 3 percent in October. That’s still enough nicotine to addict non-smokers. And there’s another problem. Leventhal said while lower nicotine levels could decrease the risk of teens getting addicted, JUUL is only releasing those new products in flavors teens don’t like. “Their sweet flavors like mango, fruit medley, and crème brulee are most popular among kids,” he said.

While they are still doing something, are they doing enough? Teenagers will always find a way to get their hands on one, so should our school be doing more? Right now, there is no smoking, drinking, or vaping allowed on school property, but it isn’t too strictly reinforced. While the hype surrounding JUUL might die down, Sicotte doesn’t expect vaping to go away. “I think this is something that will remain in the fabric of adolescence,” he said. “The access is too easy, the draw is too great, and the push through advertising is too significant.” Vaping, especially JUULing, is very dangerous to everyone, especially teens. How will we help protect our teens? Scott Gottlieb, the Food and Drug Administrator Commissioner, called teenage vaping an “epidemic”and announced his group would work to stop retailers from selling e-cigarettes to minors and warned of a possible ban on flavored e-cigarette liquids. For the safety of our peers, we need to make a change.

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