The New Wave of Nicotine Addiction That Is Taking American High Schools by Storm

There is a new breed of addictive nicotine products taking The United States, particularly American high schools, by storm. You might have guessed, ¨vapes¨  – yes, and no. Although vaping in general has become increasingly popular over the past few years among younger Americans, few products have half of the brand-image and popularity of Juul. The Juul is a small, gray device – it is sleek, skinny, and reminds some of a flash drive. The Juul device is not bigger than your average iPhone, and fits soundly in a pant pocket, easily hidden from teachers and parents alike.


Many have compared this teenage-usage of Juuls to Cigarettes, of the past. In many ways, this comparison is accurate. Many of our parents, like their parents before them, smoked cigarettes as teenagers. Most teenagers, unable to legally buy their own cigarettes from stores, found stores which do not always enforce age laws to purchase from, older friends that would go inside and buy cigarettes for them, among many other unconventional methods, all so teenagers back in the day, could smoke.


This may sound familiar to many teenagers of our time. Many teens go through similar processes to gain access to, ¨pods¨ – the small cartridge which contains many different chemicals, the flavoring of the user´s choice, and more than a cigarette pack´s worth of nicotine packed into the quarter-sized piece of plastic. These pods are inserted into the Juul device, and when the device itself is charged, delivers nicotine-charged, ¨hits¨ which give users a head rush, or ¨buzz.¨ These pods can be purchased at most gas stations, some grocery stores, and are making their way into the hands of underage users, through many of the unconventional methods that our parents before us, used back in their teenage years, when the popular fad of the day was cigarette smoking.


Although many adults, far removed from high school and many who have not experienced the use of, let alone the addiction of a nicotine product, are still doing their best to try to prevent even more young men and women from unforeseen consequences that these seemingly, ¨fun¨ devices may be responsible for later. However, not all high schoolers are fond of these new addictive devices.


¨I know that they may cause cancer, and the FDA is cracking down on sellers of the product and the company itself, due to the huge amounts of high schoolers using them,” said one concerned Senior from Champaign Central. ¨I would advise my peers to not do this, there is high risk with little to no reward – it is their choice, though.¨


As the popularity of Juuls become more popular in American teenage culture, many friends and classmates who had never drank any alcohol and never experimented with any form of illegal drug, become engulfed by a seemingly real, serious, addiction to nicotine. However, these warnings signs from current, regretful Juulers, the risks of health problems later on in life, and even the Trump administration taking specific action along with the FDA to deter the sale of these products to teenagers – have not stopped teenagers from, ¨hitting it once.¨


We asked another current Champaign Central Senior, who has never Juuled, about his opinion on the device, ¨I would never try it. Personally, my family has a past with addiction, I cannot risk that.¨ We have met with current students who Juul regularly, and we asked them to take part in this piece, they declined. They did allow us a little insight, however. Two unnamed seniors told us, ¨We did not fully understand the addiction that could develop – A Juul is just a little piece of metal, with nice flavorings, we never took the addiction aspect seriously.¨


Almost everyone in high school has either seen, used, has, or has heard of Juuls/Juuling. It is hard to believe, considering the tremendous spike in popularity over the past year, that anyone could not know about this. In order to fully understand this issue, we talked to students outside of the matter, who were not very opinionated against, or in support of the Juul, students who view Juuling as inherently wrong, and finally, we talked to a current senior at Champaign Central who himself, owns and, ¨depends¨ on a Juul, just to get through the day.


¨At this point, it really is not a choice, I would call it a requirement¨ said our interviewee, who is a self described, ¨Juul addict.¨ We went on to ask him about how he began and what he can say to people that are thinking of trying a Juul; ¨It was a gift from my girlfriend at the time, I casually used hers´ and other friends´ Juuls, but the time between these uses ranged from days, to weeks. Since I´ve had my own (since early March, 2018), I cannot imagine a full day, even a half day, without using it.¨


Due to the very concentrated and large amount of nicotine in just a single pod, we asked about his average daily usage, and how this Juuler feels when he does not have access and does not use his Juul; ¨I average a little less than one pod a day. It is truly an addiction. I am mad at younger self for mocking and laughing at those, before me, who Juuled first. The people around me who used it, claimed to be addicted, and said they experienced withdrawal when they went without it. I laughed it off – I never should have. It was more serious than I ever thought, I feel it myself.¨


In a day and age where everything we see and hear seems unprecedented, hard to understand, and at times, downright crazy – nobody knows what will happen to the Juul and the effects this device will have on user´s long-term health. From everyone involved, to those who vehemently reject these devices, to the young adults struggling with addiction, and everyone in between – the future for the company, industry, and the users, are all unknown.

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