Is JUULing Safer Than Smoking?

"JUULing" is the new fad among college students and teens. Although many JUUL users know that the small USB-looking vaping stick has risks, they don't understand the severity of the effects. In college, students pass around JUULs as if they're party favors and high school students are illegally obtaining the product. The level of addiction is so high that students can't even go an entire class period not taking a JUUL hit. I can't even believe the number of times I see people sneaking hits under library tables or smell somebody's fruit flavored vapor behind me in my lectures. The obsession is so high that I've even witnessed people dress up as JUULs for Halloween... talk about spooky.

What exactly causes JUULs to be so addictive? Well, a single JUUL pod contains 5% nicotine, which is equivalent to an entire pack of cigarettes. This is twice the amount of nicotine in regular e-cigarettes and has been proven to be as addictive as cocaine. For a product claiming to "improve the lives of the world's one billion adult smokers," the product, in reality, seems to do the opposite.

JUUL flavors go beyond just menthol and tobacco. With exotic flavors, such as mango, fruit medley, cucumber, creme brulee, and mint, children and teens are targetted with a product that seems harmless and flavorful. Not to mention that it is small and light, making it super easy to hide from a parent or teacher. JUUL's mission statement is failing, as the product causes an increase in the number of overall smokers and such a strong nicotine dependency that in the absence of a JUUL, the "gateway effect" takes place and smokers would ultimately resort to cigarettes.

What's even scarier about this device is how quickly it has dominated the tobacco and e-cigarette market. Since entering the mainstream retail marketplace in 2015, it has grown to reach 71% of market share, with sales rapidly climbing to nearly 800%. Yes, I said eight hundred. This doesn't even go into the black market sales of JUUL products to minors. 89% of minors who have attempted online transactions to purchase a JUUL have been successful, although it is more common for them to gain access through local retail stores or friends. With the sales of JUULs on sites like eBay and Craigslist, minors have the power to obtain the product at the tips of their fingers. JUUL also sends replacement JUULs to those who have previously purchased. I've heard of many people obtaining ownership of a JUUL by having their friends claim to lose their's online and be sent a new one for free.

Now I'm sure that you're wondering how these big scary numbers and the concept of nicotine addiction make "JUULing" so bad for you. Well, the truth is, the severe health risks that come along with using a JUUL go beyond just addiction and sale patterns. Most users are unaware of the long-term effects that they may face since the actual risks aren't presented to them. In case you haven't already figured out, JUULs contain nicotine, which is the only warning shown on the JUUL website. "WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical."

Well no sh**, Sherlock.

What about the long-term risks? What symptoms may a user experience? What risks can the other ingredients present? The packaging does not display feature warning labels about the health risks, as the product is not regulated by the U.S. Food And Drug Administration.

Penn State dove into the risks that users aren't aware of and found just how dangerous this tiny USB-sized nicotine device and other e-cigarettes can be. Their list of risks is pretty frightening. With that being said, if you're still thinking about vaping a JUUL, think about these things:

1. Besides nicotine, JUUL pods also contain an ingredient called formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is also used in building materials and household products, as well as disinfectants. This ingredient may cause cancer.

2. A single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. Many users go through more than one pod in just one sitting.

3. By using this product, you could experience an increased heart rate and blood pressure, develop lung disease, chronic bronchitis, and insulin resistance, which could eventually result in type 2 diabetes.

4. 60% of users are dual users. This means that they are using both JUULs/e-cigs in addition to conventional cigarettes. This is also dangerous because it urges many younger, non-tobacco smoking individuals to migrate to smoking cigarettes when they are unable to smoke from their JUUL.

If you're a college student, I'm sure you've noticed JUULs taking over your college campus. I'm sure you've smelled the various flavors when you're in the library trying to study or hear the panic of people who have lost their JUULs.

If you're a parent, you may have seen the device in your child's belongings, where I'm sure they argue that it's a USB for school, or you may have heard about JUULs from online resources warning parents about the dangers of the kid-luring nicotine vape.

If you're a JUUL user, you may have gotten started in attempts to quit smoking, or maybe it was passed to you at a party where you assumed it would just be a one-time hit.

No matter what stance you take on "JUULing," the FDA has started to discover the severity of the dangers that JUULs bring to those who choose to use (or not to use). In response to the epidemic, they have placed a partial ban on the selling of certain flavors in stores, excluding the flavors of menthol, mint, and tobacco. Although this is a start in dissembling the JUUL nation that we live in, it's not enough.

Educate yourself. Be aware of what you're doing to do your body before you actually do it. Recognize the effects that this product has on the lives of children and teens. The product itself isn't going to present the risks to you, but it doesn't mean that those risks are invisible. Whether you decide to do your research or not, the ultimate decision is still up to you. To JUUL or not to JUUL?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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