Are you the next nic-addict?

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(Illustration by Camille Sweeney-Carter)

The year 2017 brought some of the best and worst fads to life including the newly glorified trend of Juuls. While some fans might argue it is a better alternative to cigarettes or other forms of smoking, it has become a national epidemic that is hitting teens the hardest.  

Juuls are incredibly easy to hide. Resembling innocent USB drives, the four-by-one inch stick fits in any pocket, and the slick black exterior blends in with everything. Although the flashier variations, sourins or “tear drops,” are more difficult to conceal, they simply appeal to the kids who want to show off their newfound toys.

These nic-sticks start off at only $49.99 with pods costing $15.99 a pack. Customers must be at least 18 years of age in order to buy any Juul-related product; however, obtaining them is all too easy. Underage teens can simply ask an older friend or sibling to go to the gas station or pay online with a prepaid debit card.

With flavors such as creme brulee, mint, mango, and cucumber, the devil in disguise is all too appealing to younger generations. One “pod” has the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, and it is not uncommon for teens to go through entire packs – each containing four pods – in just a few days. Students can also fill the devices with other substances including marijuana.

Nicotine is a stimulant that unlocks receptors on neurons in the brain inducing the infamous “head rush” teens are so eagerly chasing. It can even act as a dopamine comparable to heroin and cocaine claims Medical News Today.

E-cigarettes were originally made to help eliminate smoking for people of all ages. Today, it serves as a gateway into cigarettes, hookah, and marijuana. In 2014 USC researchers found that adolescent users are six times more likely to smoke regular cigarettes according to a New York Times study conducted in July. Almost 20 percent of teenagers in America are hooked on this failed smoking-solution.

Contrary to common belief, juuling isn’t risk free or even a healthier alternative for real cigarettes. In fact, the FDA forbids Juul to claim any of their products are “less harmful” or “safer” than cigarettes. Teens are signing up for a lifetime of addiction under false pretenses and without even realizing the damage they are doing to their own bodies.  

My Health OC discovered the juice used to create the vapor contains chemicals such as formaldehyde, which is used to preserve dead bodies. It also obtains the same deadly chemicals found in traditional cigarettes such as acrylonitrile that is most prominently found in the fruitier flavors. Acrylonitrile is extremely poisonous and used to manufacture plastics, adhesives, and synthetic rubber. In no way do these ingredients belong in any human’s body.

In October 2017, a NYU School of Medicine study found e-cigarette smoking can lead to an increased risk of heart-disease and cancer because it causes significant damage to DNA that reduces repair activity in the lungs, bladder, and heart. Second-hand smokers could also face carcinogenic risks.

It might have started off as just another fad, but due to nicotine’s extremely addicting nature, teens may not be able to see this one go out so fast. Juul claims to be doing everything in its power to discourage teen e-cigarette smoking, but it clearly isn’t working. The first step to a solution is education. Both teens and adults need to be fully aware of all the consequences that come with e-cigs.

Parents should research, learn, and speak to their children about the importance of abstaining from juuling. Due to the severity, health classes should include lessons about e-cigarettes and the damaging effects of nicotine and other harmful substances involved. And, if e-cigarettes continue to consume America’s health, they should be removed from the shelves all together because not one good thing has come of them.