The juuling epidemic


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Sarah Hyatt, Entertainment Editor

The biggest wave of teen smoking may just be the deadliest. This sleek new take on smoking has captivated teens, spiraling them towards brain and lung destruction.  

The $15 billion vaping company, Juul Labs, was co-founded by Adam Bowen and James Monsees, two former-cigarette smokers and Stanford University product-design grad students. The device was introduced by PAX Labs in 2015, and came to command the vaping world, especially for high schoolers. 

E-cigarettes and vapes are taking over for traditional methods of tobacco consumption, such as cigarettes and dip. Nicotine is a chemical that can be life-threatening, but not because of the threat of cancer, but the fact that it causes an addiction to cigarettes. Nicotine is a highly addictive, naturally occurring mild stimulant, found in the leaves of the tobacco plant. Nicotine can enhance body functions including fine motor skills, coordination, and alertness. In 1976, Michael Russell, a pioneer in the study of tobacco dependence of cigarettes, explained, “People smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar.” 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has not classified or assigned pure nicotine to an official carcinogenic classification, stating, “There is inadequate research to demonstrate that nicotine is associated with cancer in humans, but there is evidence indicating possible oral, esophageal, or pancreatic cancer risks.” The $35 billion smoking industry is hard to erase. Juul investigations started in late 2018 when the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reportedly requested marketing documents from Juul Labs. The investigation was conducted on accounts of Juul’s extensive social media advertising to media outlets. 

Although restricted to persons 18 years of age and older, “juuling” has become most popular with minors. Kids as young as twelve or thirteen are being lured by the fruity flavors and addictive chemicals. “Taking it in with blueberry flavoring, with mango flavoring, with cotton-candy flavoring, and so they do not realize to what extent it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” stated Dr. Brian Primack, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh. 

As explained by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous—and dangerous—trend among teens. The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable.” Due to the short period of time vaping has come into play, there is still not enough research or regulations to handle these new smoking products in a healthy manner.