Photograph by Estella Nakahara-Hemp
Juuls, the new cigarette for the new generation and the most recent development in the realm of e-cigarettes, are becoming increasingly popular within the culture of Berkeley High School (BHS).
The small handheld device delivers vaporized nicotine from disposable pods containing a five percent nicotine solution.
On campus, it seems like every day someone else is showing off their new Juul.
“There is never a time where a Juul is out, and I don’t ask for a hit, ” said a Berkeley International High School (BIHS) junior.
In the last two years, vaping and e-cigarettes have increased in popularity in Berkeley, whereas before, most people were strongly against nicotine in the form of cigarettes. It’s popularity among students indicates that as a result of nicotine consumption changing its form into a sleek metal Juul, people are no longer concerned about the implications of nicotine.
When compared to cigarettes, one of the main advantages of Juuling is the absence of other harmful toxins contained in a traditional cigarette. Juuls do not contain tobacco or other additives, the key difference between traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Despite being created for habitual cigarette smokers rather than teenagers, Juuls have lead to students slowly getting addicted to the “headrush” and are, in turn, becoming addicted to nicotine.
In each pod, there is approximately 59 mg/mL of nicotine, which is the equivalent to a pack of cigarettes per pod. According to a study by the University of Chicago, e-cigarettes normalize smoking, an act that has become less socially acceptable over the past twenty years. In actuality, electric cigarettes have the potential to act as a gateway to combustible cigarettes.
Juuls have presented an nearly undetectable method of consuming nicotine that’s less publicly recognizable for teens and young adults.
It’s addictive in its own right, and it may lead to changes in the brain that increase the risk of addiction to other drugs, especially in young people.” said John Ross, a hospitalist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in a post on the Harvard Health Blog. The growing popularity of Juuling has gotten so intense, that at Berkeley High you will find students taking “Nicotine breaks” in the bathroom during class or at lunch.
“My addiction to nicotine has gotten so bad that I find myself going to the bathroom to Juul and finding others doing the same, ” said an Academic Choice (AC) junior. Even students who don’t have a Juul, ask others for a hit to satisfy their need for the headrush.
“I don’t have a Juul but I really love the headrush and so I’m always asking others for theirs,” said an AC senior. It’s not the Juul itself that has become popular but the feeling of a headrush that has attracted so many young people, including those at BHS.
Another non Juul owner said, “I occasionally will head over to the bathroom and find people Juuling and I automatically ask for a hit. It has become my instinct.”
Furthermore, students are not only Juuling in the bathroom but students are Juuling in hallways, and even in class, where they take a hit and then swallow the vapor or exhale it into their hoodies when the teacher isn’t looking. Juuls have created a new problem in classes where students are able to discreetly use the device and further feed their addiction.
Another matter to consider is that the Juul lifestyle is not the cheapest. You can buy a Juul online for fifty dollars or at a smoke shop for $65 but that is just the device. Each pack of pods which contains four individual pods costs around thirty dollars depending on the flavor. The Juul pod flavors range from mango, mint, tobacco, and fruit medley to creme brulée and cool cucumber.
A lot of kids these days buy pods together to share flavors and save money. Although it is expensive to maintain this lifestyle, some students rely so much on their Juul they do not care about the financial or health repercussions.
“Since [smoke shops] know we are underage they make the pods so expensive, but we still buy them anyway” said an AC junior. Buying online is also an option with flimsy regulation on buying Juuls. Online, it appears that all you have to do is check a box that says you are 21+ years old.
Juuling is now an aspect of social life for many teens, creating a common interest and a way of sharing. However, there could be unexplored negative aspects of Juuling. Many people speculate it to be a pathway for kids to start experimenting with other drugs. A study done by the New England Journal of Medicine revealed nicotine use could lead to leniency towards cocaine and other addictive drugs later on.
The sleek and compact Juul can become addictive and the nicotine in a Juul is harmful. However, some might say that Juuling in the bathroom, at home, or even in class is soon to become a norm to relieve high stress levels. Still, it’s undeniable that Juuling has become a popular aspect of BHS student culture and life.