It’s a commonly known fact that cigarettes are bad for you. So many former smokers have taken to E-cigarettes and vapes to quit. The company Juul Labs has a mission, to help adult smokers cut their cigarette addiction with their tobacco-free product. But the slick and discreet design of the Juul is attracting more than just adult smokers. According to the New York Times, The sales campaigns for Juuls — now hugely popular with teenagers across the nation — are at the heart of a federal investigation into whether the company intentionally marketed its devices to youth.
The Juul campaign was started in 2015, but sales took off in 2017. Past advertisements showed smiling young models holding their products behind bright colored backgrounds. From a teens perspective, the Juul advertisement seemed very innocent. It does not at all show the risks of vaping nor does it have warnings that the product contains addictive chemicals like nicotine. However, Juul Labs does show concern for the growing popularity of vapes in teenagers. Recently, they changed the names of flavors like “creme brulee” to “creme” and the flavor “cool cucumber” to "cucumber" in hopes of drawing less attention to the younger generation. Still, the e-cigarette use in teens shows no sign for slowing down; a survey done by Monitoring The Future showed that about 12% of eighth graders admitted to vaping “just flavoring”, 8% of revealed that they have vaped products containing nicotine, and 3% admitted to vaping products containing marijuana.
During my research for this article, I found out that Juul.com was unblocked on the school computers. This shocked me, as things like online shopping, music streaming services, and even some educational websites were blocked. But a website that retails products that teachers and administrators are constantly telling us not to use remains unblocked and free for us to browse. At the beginning of the year, we were told that any misconduct in use of computers would result in a minor referral, however, I’ve been browsing the site for about a week and no teachers show any sort of concern with what I am looking at. This makes me wonder: Just how easy is it to vape in school?
“It’s literally so easy,” an eighth-grader told Asheville Middle Journalism. “Kids do it all the time the bathrooms.” Teachers often have mistaken these devices for stationery supplies. For example, the Juul resembles a flash drive. It can be plugged into your computer to be charged through a USB. The purchase of e-cigarettes for minors is not necessarily hard either. Online shopping websites create an easy, anonymous way for teens to purchase these devices. Age verification for some of these websites is as simple as answering yes to the question “Are you 21?” Since vaporizers are often scentless or close to scentless, it’s very hard to tell whether someone vapes or not compared to traditional cigarettes.
What are the health risks of E-cigarettes? Well, the long-term effects of Juuls are unknown. But according to the American Cancer Society, addictive chemicals can harm a developing brain like one in a teenager, therefore the concern of nicotine inhalation is greater for teenagers than in adults. Although tobacco usage in youths has been declining, the interest in vaporizers and e-cigarettes have been rising. Would eliminating cigarette usage be worth it if it meant replacing it with more a modern and electronic device?
Article written by Erin Chen