USC students need to just drop the Juul


Juuls and all e-cigarettes are on the Food and Drug Administration’s slate for removal from the market. California may follow Michigan to prohibit the sales of flavored e-cigarettes. (Courtesy of Vaping360.com / Flickr)

Nobody ever thought this generation would become addicted to nicotine, let alone from a device that looks like a USB drive. But it happened, and we must put an end to the mass usage of Juuls among college-aged people. 

USC is a smoke-free campus. The policy handbook clearly states that smoking is not permitted at any facility — indoor or outdoor — owned and leased by the University.

Smoking a cigarette on campus? Probably not going to end well for you. Hitting a big, clunky vape in the dining hall? Yikes. Smoking a joint in your dorm? You’re in trouble. But when it comes to Juuling — that’s a form of smoking you can realistically get away with. 

Juul is an electronic cigarette that was launched in 2015. It uses a battery-powered coil to turn a liquid solution into an aerosol inhaled by the user. The liquid is stored in a disposable Juulpod attached to the device, which is also produced by Juul Labs. All pods are either 3% or 5% nicotine by weight and are flavored — options include mango, mint and classic tobacco. They come in a sleek, all-black design similar to USB drives and produce a rather inconspicuous, odorless wisp of smoke that disperses quickly. 

The creators of Juul, both Stanford University graduates, allegedly created the device to help smokers quit — the goal was to eliminate traditional cigarettes. However, a USC study found that e-cigarette usage does not meaningfully change among people aged 25-44, but decreased in people ages 45 and older. By contrast, teenage vaping has doubled since 2017, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead of getting adults off of cigarettes and onto Juuls, the company is taking kids’ prior nicotine abstinence and making them addicts early on.

The CDC posits that Juuls are popular because they are discrete, contain a lot of nicotine and come in appealing, candy-like flavors. In December 2018, Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a notice on kids’ e-cigarette use, calling the growing issue an epidemic. 

Though Juuls provide cigarettes’ nicotine fix without the carcinogens, that does not mean Juuls are necessarily consequence-free. Nicotine is detrimental for developing brains because it can disrupt the formation of circuits that control attention and learning. Furthermore, a joint study by Duke and Yale universities found that “when certain popular flavors are added to a common solvent in the vaping liquids, they produce chemicals that irritate airways and lungs.” A different study  from the American College of Cardiology even tied e-cigarette use with heart and artery disease. 

The government is catching on to how big this problem is. The Food and Drug Administration is going to outline a plan to remove flavored e-cigarettes and pods from the market. Michigan has become the first state to prohibit the sales of flavored e-cigarettes, with California considering similar policy. Moreover, the Trump administration itself desires to ban flavored e-cigarettes. 

In response to outrage, Juul Labs has announced plans to limit the sale of its fruity pods exclusively to its website, prevent online bulk purchases, strengthen its online age verification system and crack down on unauthorized online sales. While commendable, it’s a little too late. It has already created a generation of addicts. 

The sad fact is that quitting Juuling is difficult. As brought up in the subreddit dedicated to Juul, some consider it far more difficult to quit than cigarettes because Juuls are more pervasive. Because you can Juul practically all the time and in any setting, Juuling is harder to kick than cigarettes, which cannot be smoked wherever or whenever. The reason it is so easy to start is exactly why it is so hard to stop: Quitting is so difficult. 

Because Juuls are so new, the extent of their long-term impact is not yet known. Nonetheless, findings are already quite grim. The best thing to do is to not smoke at all. If you’ve started, stop. If you never have, don’t. Inhaling foreign substances is generally not a good idea. Perhaps this is more of an incentive to stop: Getting busted on USC’s smoke-free campus for Juuling would be horrifically embarrassing.