July 17, 2019

JUULing: not a healthy alternative

     Addiction. When you hear that word what comes to mind? Is it a 15 year old hiding in their high school bathroom vaping out of a flash drive looking device? Maybe not, but nicotine addiction is becoming a lot more common and kids are vaping JUUL’s long before they can legally purchase them at 18.

     JUUL products contain more nicotine than any other e-cigarette or tobacco product. One JUUL pod contains the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, according to the Truth Initiative.

     JUULing has become a widespread problem among adolescents and young adults. The FDA has called this nicotine phenomenon an epidemic. Nicotine is an addictive chemical, no matter where you get it from.

     According to a study published by the CDC JUUL Lab’s sales increased by 641 percent in 2016-2017 and sold 16.2 million devices in 2017 alone. We are the generation that is normalizing nicotine addiction again and we may also become the generation that brings back cigarettes.

     JUULing isn’t seen as a bad thing and many don’t even realize they’re addicted to nicotine until they try to stop. JUULing devices and pods are expensive products. You need both of them to ‘hit the JUUL’ so when someone’s addicted to nicotine and they can no longer afford JUUL products or don’t have access to them, they may turn to the cheaper alternative of cigarettes.

     Young adults who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to begin smoking cigarettes within 18 months as their peers who do not use e-cigarettes, found a study by the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences.

     I know using a JUUL doesn’t seem like a big deal. Go to any high school or college party and at least one person you know is going to have an e-cigarette of some kind. When everyone’s doing it it doesn’t seem like a big deal at all.

     Since e-cigarettes and JUUL’s are relatively new products, not much research has been done to see the long term health effects. JUULing is seen as a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. It’s more convenient, easier to use and so much easier to hide than cigarettes are.

     When smoking cigarettes became widespread and normalized in society during World Wars I and II cigarettes weren’t seen as a health risk. They were glamorized in media and the government even gave soldiers cigarettes during the World Wars.

     JUULing is seen as “not that bad” but what I think so many people forget is that the world once thought that smoking cigarettes “wasn’t that bad” until lung cancer rates skyrocketed in the U.S. That is what I see happening now. The glamorization and normalization of nicotine addiction is now a problem our generation will have to retribute.

     We don’t know the long term effects of JUULs but we know what nicotine does to the body. Nicotine is an addictive chemical. Once you’re addicted to it, it doesn’t matter where you get it from. If you start JUULing and become addicted then you are addicted to nicotine, not the JUUL and cigarettes may be in your near future if nicotine addiction isn’t addressed.

     It will take time for scientists to do enough research to learn the long term effects of JUUL’s and who knows, they may be completely harmless. Dip and cigarettes both contain nicotine though and both have been found to cause a myriad of health issues so it’s probably safer to just stay away from that shiny, poisonous flash drive.

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