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The Hillsdale Anti Juul Coalition on facebook seeks to start the dis­cussion on juul use through humorous content. Hillsdale Anti Juul Coalition | Courtesy

“Hitting the Juul” has become a common phrase as high schoolers and college stu­dents increas­ingly turn to Juul as a “cool” form of e‑smoking.

Juul is a brand of e‑cigarettes that delivers an aerosol mix of chem­icals, nicotine, and fla­voring to the user, according to the American Cancer Society. One Juul can contain as much nicotine as an entire pack of cig­a­rettes.

Senior Haley Hauprich has set out to crit­icize that, opening a Facebook page against using Juul products.

“It’s gotten very popular with college stu­dents espe­cially,” Hauprich said. “It’s a very big pop culture thing.”

She was inspired to begin the page after seeing her friends using Juul.

“I thought, ‘This is so dumb. Why are people doing this?’” Hauprich said.

The Facebook page, called Anti-Juul Coalition, is mostly devoted to memes and is not par­tic­u­larly serious.

While Hauprich said she’s not trying to start a cam­paign, she would like to see people’s opinion about juuling change.

“I would love to see people not using it,” she said. “Getting a nicotine addiction just for the sake of being cool is not a very good idea.”

Senior Mark Compton, another leader of the Anti-Juul Coalition, said that he believes that Juul is good when used for the purpose it was created for.

“I don’t dislike Juul,” he said. “I think that if you’re trying to quit smoking, they’re fan­tastic. I don’t think that you should buy one if you don’t smoke, because I’ve seen a lot of people that didn’t have a nicotine addiction develop one from a Juul.”

Senior James Burke, a Juul user, said that he turned to Juul because it was a healthier alter­native to cig­a­rettes.

“When I got to campus as a freshman, I was a social smoker for a little bit,” he said. “Then I realized quickly that that wasn’t healthy for me. A lot of tobacco products tend to be expensive, so I wanted some­thing that I could use more fre­quently, that wasn’t as phys­i­cally dan­gerous, didn’t make me smell bad, didn’t make the other people around me feel uncom­fortable, and that was more cost effective.”

The answer, for Burke, was found in Juul, which he said is cheaper and healthier than cig­a­rettes. Juul, Burke explained, costs only around $4 a pod, which is equiv­alent to a $10-$12 pack of cig­a­rettes. In addition, he has read many of the recent studies on Juul that have come out over the past few years.

“The general con­sensus is that it is healthier for you than other tobacco products,” he said.

Addiction has not proved to be a problem for him, he said.

“I don’t really use it when I go home on breaks, and I haven’t had any with­drawal symptoms or cravings for it, so I think that addiction is really a more per­sonal thing. Some people struggle with addiction more or less than others,” he said.  

When asked if he was con­cerned that Juul would be used by teenagers who have not smoked, cre­ating nicotine addic­tions, he replied in the neg­ative. To Burke, the teenagers that use Juul are the same ones that would try cig­a­rettes. The teenagers who try Juul are those who would try any­thing that was frowned upon, including cig­a­rettes if Juul was not available.

“If you look at, over the past five decades, high schoolers have been smoking cig­a­rettes, like they always have been,” he said. “It’s one of those things that’s going to happen, and it’s not a good thing, but that’s the reality of it that young people are going to try those things. I don’t think it really changes much.”

Zul­fiqar Mannan, reporting in Yale Daily News, Yale University’s campus news­paper, described the ways in which Juul has impacted Yale’s campus. She told the story of a friend:

“I started [Juuling] when I started going out and people would have cig­a­rettes and I’d be like, oh, I really enjoy the nicotine but I don’t want to get into smoking cig­a­rettes,” Jazzie nar­rates now.

She thought it would be a “fun thing to try.” Fun, that is, until she realized her addiction.

Today, Jazzie vehe­mently “does not rec­ommend the Juul to anyone.”

But, is Juul actually bad for you? In a 2016 report about e‑cigarette use, Thomas R. Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Pre­vention said, “Tobacco use among youth and young adults in any form, including e‑cigarettes, is not safe.” He con­tinues, “Nicotine exposure can also harm brain devel­opment in ways that may affect the health and mental health of our kids.”

In an interview pub­lished online, Cliff Dou­glass, Vice Pres­ident for Tobacco Control of the American Cancer Society, added that this also applies to college stu­dents.

“The brain is still devel­oping well into the mid-20s and even beyond, so health con­cerns apply not only to teens but also to college-age users,” he said.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Ser­vices, these health con­cerns include dis­ruption of “the growth of brain cir­cuits that control attention, learning, and sus­cep­ti­bility to addiction,” and they “can include lower impulse control and mood dis­orders.”

The report, released by the United States Surgeon General in 2016, also expressed con­cerns that e‑cigarette use would lead to further problems.

“Research has found that youth who use a tobacco product, such as e‑cigarettes, are more likely to go on to use other tobacco products like cig­a­rettes,” it stated. “The nicotine in e‑cigarettes … can prime young brains for addiction to other drugs, such as cocaine and metham­phet­amine.”

These con­cerns led the Food and Drug Admin­is­tration to retaliate. According to The New York Times, on Sept. 28 2018, they “con­ducted a sur­prise inspection” of Juul’s head­quarters. They seized approx­i­mately a thousand doc­u­ments, which are in addition to the 50,000 pages of doc­u­ments handed over to the FDA earlier in the year by Juul.

In a USA Today report, FDA Com­mis­sioner Scott Got­tlieb said “the agency will halt sales of fla­vored elec­tronic cig­a­rettes if the major man­u­fac­turers can’t prove they are doing enough to keep them out of the hands of children and teens.”

However, Juul is working with the FDA. In a statement reported by USA Today, Vic­toria Davis, a spokes­woman for Juul, said, “We are focused on engaging with FDA, law­makers, reg­u­lators, public health offi­cials, and advo­cates to drive awareness of our mission to improve the lives of the world’s one billion smokers and to combat underage use so we keep Juul out of the hands of young people.

In fact, vis­itors to Juul’s website will be asked whether they are 21 or older and willing to verify. If they answer in the neg­ative, they will be redi­rected to the NIH Smoke­FreeTeen website. Juul’s website only sells products to those who are over 21 years of age.