Going off of a tangent we discussed in class when talking about effects of red wine and if it is really a benefit to your health or not, we got into the conversation of juul’s, vapes and E-cigs. Some say red wine can be considered a “healthier alcohol alternative” compared to a beer. Yet if that is your true concern, either don’r drink alcohol all together, or just eat a handful of grapes to get your daily dosage of resveratrol. The same comparison can be made toward cigarettes vs. E-cigs. Yes, they are a healthier alternative in that the E-cig delivers the nicotine without tobacco, burning, or carcinogen-laden smoke. But if you are already a non-smoker, it is in your best interest just to stay away altogether.
The juul is a USB-shaped e-cigarette with multiple flavors such as fruit medley and creme brulee, and it is taking the youth population by storm. Orginally produced with intent to be a safer alternative to cigarette smoking for adults, the juul has become a widespread trend among young adults and high school students. With the sleek design, easy enough to carry in your pocket, tasty flavors and minimal byproduct so that litle amount of smoke is shown when exhaled, the juul is convenient for high school aged teenagers to bring whereever they go and even smoke indoors. A large reason for this growing trend can be attributed to social media and meme culture. Buzzfeed reports there are over 50,000 posts under the hashtag “juul” on instragram soley, not to mention endless tweets and youtube videos.
The epidemic is growing as such a vast rate that even high school administrators are beginning to crack down and contact concerned parents to put a hault on their kids near nicotine addiction. Although the long term health affects of juul’s are still undetermined due to the fact that E-cigs are a relatively new trend, one point still rings true: that nicotine is still a heavily addicted substance, and one hit of juul can pack a heavy dose of that. The nicotine content per pod is equivalent to that of a whole pack of cigarettes. For a teen especically who does not understand these risks behind the juul, they will be the ones to constantly take hit after hit, because of that lack of burning that a cigarette holds. With this, an average teen will go through their juul pod a lot quicker and easier than it would take an average person to tackle a full pack of cigarettes.
A juul can cost between $35-50 and pods cost about $4 each, which is not a bad bargain to turn down, especially a high school student with limited funds. Yet it is illegal for people under the age of 18 to buy e-cigarettes, although teens are always finding ways to get them, usually with the help of older friends, or taking it from their parents. According to the FDA, a recent report from the CDC found that e-cigarette use rose from 1.5% to 16% among high school students and from 0.6% to 5.3% among middle school students from 2011 to 2015; over 2 million high school and middle school students used e-cigarettes in 2016. If I were a parent or high school teacher seeing those stats, it would alarm me to raise the awareness of the epidemic, and end this no good trend.
Although the juul has been said to be a healthy alternative to cigarette smoking does not mean that it is harmless in any way. When smoking a juul, you still inhale a lot of chemicals, especially for the flavored pods. This can still cause asthma and other harmful lung conditions. Nicotine itself can act as a neurotoxin and alter brain chemistry, especially in the developing brains of teens and young adults. Another important reason is that nicotine is a gateway drug, and once you become addicted enough, drugs like cocaine and heroin will appear more rewarding to your brain.
With this all being said, if you have never been a cigarette smoker, don’t start now. Researchers are concerned with the fact that the amount of nicotine in juul’s is enough to cause teens to beomce addicted and may cause them to begin smoking real cigarettes which goes against its original purpose. Even if a juul is tempting you with its pretty flavors and sleek design, do not conform to the trend and fall into peer pressure. The juul can be a powerful tool in the future of weening adults off of cigarette addiction. However, it can also reverse the direction by causing our future generations to re-enter this nasty habit and we start all over again from square one.