In a living room sporting a household bong, a Swedish flag and some of the most powerful speakers you can get for $200, one of the occupants is fiending for nicotine in the middle of an intense Fortnite game and his Juul across the room charging.
“Yo dude, can I ask you some questions about the Juul”? a reporter asked.
“One condition – if you get my Juul,” said the gamer in response.
In recent decades as the information on the danger of cigarettes is released, more and more products have been made to help people get rid of the habit. If someone wants to quit options to help include gum, patches, acupuncture and the latest craze – nicotine vaporizing apparatuses.
Juuls are dominating the market in electronic cigarettes and are rampant at Castleton University too. Introduced to the market in 2015 by Pax Labs, Juul electronic cigarettes went from 0 percent of the electronic cigarettes sold to 72 percent in less than three years, according to a study by Wells Fargo bank.
But now the company is coming under fire by the federal government.
Scott Gottlieb, chief of the FDA, is calling the youth popularity an epidemic leading to the decision to crack down on Juul, Vuse, Logic, Mark-Ten and Blu e-cigs due to the number of minors who use the products. The companies have until Nov. 11 to submit plans for reducing the number of underage users or there will be FDA placed restrictions.
According to a recent Washington Post story, a study published by the FDA shows “a 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students this year, compared with 2017.”
“I knew it was a problem when I saw 13- and 14-year-olds Juuling on Killington,” said Owen Tretter, a Castleton student.
While the number of underage Juul users is escalating quickly, that is not the intent of the founders. Juul was invented with the goal of reducing the number of traditional cigarette smokers. It delivers the nicotine without the other carcinogens or smell.
But while getting a nicotine fix from a vaporizer may be a great way to quit actual cigarettes, and has helped people leave them behind, the issue is it still delivers the addictive nicotine fix.
And what do the vaping devices offer to young people?
How about a delicious fruity flavor. The flavor of vape juices can come in an assortment of flavors like mango, fruit, cucumber, crème brulee, menthol, mint and two kinds of tobacco. While menthol and tobacco may not attract minors, mango and fruity flavor are very enticing.
“If they don’t pull their shit together, they will pull all but two flavors, mint and tobacco cause only fruity flavors attract kids,” said Jacob Nichols, an employee at Token Glass smoke shop at Castleton Four Corners. Nichols also said the company has “donated $15 million to try to raise the age to buy all tobacco products to the age of 21.”
A Castleton student who wishes to remain unnamed said the FDA crackdown is “pointless.”
“If they get rid of certain flavors people will still do it,” he said.
Tasty flavors are not the only reason electronic vapes are so popular. Several people say they use them to quit cigs.
Castleton student William Jacob has been using the Juul for “almost four months” to stop his cigarette use he said and hopes to eventually wean off nicotine altogether.
“I would still be smoking two packs a day if it wasn’t for the Juul,” Jacob said. “I tried a bunch of other quitting methods. I tried the gum, I tried the patches, cold turkey, tried other vapes like the Mark-Ten made by Phillip Morris and none of those worked. The Juul is the first that I used that I never faltered with.”
When asked about the government crackdown, he felt it was misguided.
“They are definitely marketing to an adult audience and they do not support underage use or even recreational use. Like, they are pretty clear they just want it to be an alternative for of age smokers so they can quit cigarettes. So I think it would be pretty unreasonable or even unconstitutional to ban them.”
Castleton Freshman Emilio Stevens has been Juuling for a year and while he likes it, recently he thinks it has been giving him an “eating problem, like not being able to eat as much or never being hungry.” The first nicotine he consumed was through electronic vapes box mods at age of 15 and has been vaping since. He said he likes the Juul because you can do them anywhere even “in class.”
Users say they love that stealthy device and the sneaky way you can take a quick hit.
Despite email attempts to Juul’s corporate headquarters seeking information on how they plan to address the government crackdown, the emails went unreturned.
You can read the companies mission statement and the “about us” information on the website www.juul.com.
Users like Jacob say Juul is helping him stay away from cigarettes, but the devices are also leaving youth addicted to nicotine at younger and younger ages.
Some schools are getting aggressive to combat student use. To take precautions a recent Washington Post article reported “a school in Maryland removed doors of bathrooms to keep kids from Juuling.”
Theodore Laquederea has used tobacco for years but recently has made the switch to Juul to get a “convenient nicotine fix through what appears to be a healthier option than moles (a mixture of marijuana and tobacco smoked through a bong).”
Connor Kukla, a Castleton senior said, “It’s not cool that minors Juul.”
So what will happen in the upcoming days as vape companies await the FDA verdict? How will people handle it? Will everyone act like Castleton student Li Aunes, who has plans to “stock up” or will they share the opinion of Castleton junior Zeb Reardon who says “good, smoke cigs instead,” when asked of the crackdown of the Juul.