Too much JUUL-ery: the pods sweeping ETHS


Photo manipulated by Jesse Bond.

Jonah Charlton and Trinity Collins

While cigarettes’ harmful side effects have caused a decrease in popularity, there’s a new nicotine-based buzz hitting the school: JUUL.

     “I would hit my JUUL anywhere from 20 – 100 times in a day; I’d hit it in between classes and then a couple more times at home,” junior Pat Williams* says.

     The JUUL was introduced by PAX Labs in 2015, but it didn’t become popular until the product was spun into its own company, JUUL, in 2017. The electronic cigarettes’ usage grew at ETHS simultaneously.

      “I first used a JUUL sophomore year or so. It wasn’t the peer pressure but the atmosphere of what everyone else was doing so I just wanted to get in on the fad,” junior Alex Johns* says. “It was like the silly bands back when we were in third grade; everyone had it so I wanted one too.”

     A JUUL is a type of e-cigarette which “accommodates nicotine levels akin to a cigarette to satisfy smokers switching,” according to the company JUUL. One JUUL pod contains .7 mL of nicotine which is equivalent to approximately one pack of cigarettes.

     Although JUULs has been marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, in 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that e-cigarettes will be regulated as tobacco product. This regulation prohibits minors from buying JUULs themselves along with their corresponding pods.

     According to U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, within 10 seconds of nicotine entering your body, the nicotine reaches your brain. It causes the brain to release adrenaline, creating a buzz of pleasure and energy.

     “The buzz you get off JUULing is a really strong head high, you get a little dizzy and then you feel relaxed. You know you have a good buzz when you start to feel a tingle in your arms and head,” junior Kye Leigh* explains.

     A study, conducted by reachered at the University of Massachusetts, Harvard Medical School and the University of London, found evidence that adolescent smokers become addicted to nicotine much faster. Among the 332 youth in the student who had ever used tobacco — which addictive chemical is nicotine — 40 percent reported symptoms of addiction.

      “I honestly was addicted to [JUULing],” senior Jay Hart* states. “It was addicting not only because of the nicotine, but also because it became a regular part of my daily routine that it felt weird not to hit it.”

      Drug addiction, as defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is a chronic brain disease that is characterized the seeking and use of harmful drugs. There are various biological and environmental factors that increases one’s chances to become addicted.

     “I feel like I’m sort of addicted to [JUULing]. It’s like my mind is addicted to the feeling but my body isn’t,” senior Ray William* explains. “I know my body has no physical dependence on it because when I stop I get no physical withdrawal. But my mind is chasing that buzz that it gives you. It’s a psychological dependence, not a physical one.”

      As reported by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, addiction can be seen through behavioral or physical warning signs. Behavioral signs include obsessive thoughts and actions, disregard of harm caused to self, loss of control and denial of addiction or hiding drug use. Some physical signs include insomnia, unusual body odors, poor physical coordination and looking unkempt.

      A JUUL, designed like a flash drive, is easier to conceal than other nicotine products. “When I used to own a JUUL, I used to JUUL like 95 percent of the time I was in school,” Leigh* says. “I would stop and blow smoke behind teachers backs for fun.”

     Wellness, a one-semester class taken by sophomores, attempts to combat the usage of e-cigarettes, like JUULs, through their drug education curriculum. These lessons include various topics such as classification, effects, addiction, Drug Awareness Films or Drug Raps and refusal skills.

     In this previous semester, wellness teachers such as Kathleen Weber have incorporated information about e-cigarettes more readily into the class. Weber plans to focus on JUULs in future semesters, specifically honing in on the science behind the drug and its effect to students’ brains.

      Although JUULing was introduced as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, it’s discreteness and popularity has caused widespread usage among teens on a national scale, yet many of them do not know the harmful effects behind it.