Head in the clouds

Juuling becomes harmful teen trend

More stories from Ellen Garrett

Juling is the new trend among teenagers all across the country. The sleek, portable nicotine device makes it easy for underage smokers to conceal them in their pockets and palms. While these small sticks resembling USB drives may not seem like they could do much damage, they pack a punch of nicotine.

According to Vox.com, each pod contains 59 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of liquid which is three times the nicotine levels permitted in the European Union, which is why Juul cannot be sold in those countries. If a teenager smokes through one pod a week, it adds up to 100 cigarettes over five weeks. This amount of smoking makes you an established smoker.

While advertisements can be essential to running a business, Juul ads seem to be more targeted at teenagers than adults. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, seven out of ten teens have been exposed to advertisements for Juuls. According to the US National Institute of Health, exposure make teenagers much more likely to partake in the advertised activities.

In Kansas, vaping on school grounds is prohibited for anyone, whether they are a minor or not. According to the Public Health Law Center (PHLC), in Kansas, it is illegal for a minor to purchase or possess any e-cigarette device, including juuls. Yet, Newton High School is no stranger to underage juuling.

16-year-old, male
One 16-year-old male student began juuling five months ago, at age 16, when he was offered the device by one of his friends.

“I showed up to a movie and I got into my friend’s car and he handed it to me,” he said.

For most of the time, he did not own their own juul, and instead used a friend’s. Eventually, he got his own, which allowed him more freedom in use.

“I’ve owned it for like a month,” he said. “I use it three to four times a week.”

Although he does not use his juul as often as some, the knowledge of smoking and nicotine’s effect on the body still affects his use.

“I have a general understanding. I know I can’t just sit around and puff it for hours,” he said.

Despite the knowledge, he is not worried about becoming addicted.

“I wasn’t worried because I have enough self control,” he said.

He said he is confident in his self control because of the cost of the hobby.

“It costs like $10 a week at most,” he said.

After all the money, possibility of being caught and nicotine, he continues his use because it’s something to do “when I’m bored”.

17-year-old, maleThis 17-year-old male student began their nicotine use at age 16 and, up until six months ago, used a vape pen instead of a Juul. He does not believe its any better.

“I used to vape and then from vape, I got a Juul because everyone was doing it,” he said. “It’s worse. Vape-you can control the flavor and you can see how it’s mixed. With Juul it’s a salt-based juice instead.”

According to nationalfamilies.org, 90 to 95 percent of users become addicted to nicotine.

“Hell yeah, I’m addicted. As soon as I get done doing something, I’m juuling. There’s four pods in a pack and I go through a pack in like two days,” he said.

Getting the supplies to maintain his juuling habit has not been hard for him.

“A lot of people don’t ID. As long as you look the part, you can get it,” he said.

However, buying as many pods as they do really adds up when it comes to money.

“It is very expensive. In a month, I spend close to $40-50,” he said.

The trend of juuling is so normalized now that people often forget that it is illegal for people under the age of 18. He is not unfamiliar with close calls.

“I’ve dropped mine in front of people I should not have dropped it in front of. I’ve mostly not had any problems with it,” he said.

He finds the risk worth it because of the momentary high that the nicotine gives users.

“If you know what drugs or alcohol feel like, it’s a 10 second buzz. Some people say ‘Oh it’s like a cigarette it doesn’t do anything’ but it does. It’s just 10 seconds where you don’t feel anything. You may get light headed, but your mind is clear,” he said. “I’m not going to do it forever anyways, so I might as well knock it out now instead of when I’m 50.”

With the risks of addiction and getting caught, being careful and knowing your own limits is something that he said he finds very important.

“It often gets looked over, but if you don’t know what you’re getting into, don’t do it,” he said.

16-year-old, female
At the age of 16, she has already owned a juul for four months. However, unlike others, she owned a Juul for a month before beginning to use it.

“All of my friends chipped in to get it because I’m always the one just watching them when they’re at parties, so they bought it for me, and I didn’t use it until we hung out again,” she said.

Despite owning her own, she only juuls “about five times a week” and was first introduced to it by friends.

“I was at a friend’s house and we were up until five in the morning and I ended up just doing it to stay awake,” she said.

For some, an occasional use turns into chronic addiction, but she says that she is not addicted and does not spend much money buying pods.

“It’s not too bad, like $10 every time I buy them. I buy them not even once a month,” she said. “I don’t do it that much, I used it a lot more when I first got it, but when I learned more about what it did, I stopped using it more and more.”