Students admit Juuling can become addictive


Sarah Noble

Police and faculty say they have seen little Juuling.

Sarah Noble, Multimedia Editor

As second-year journalism student Noah Reem reclined on a worn sofa after a long day of classes, both of his legs were twitching and his eyes darted around the room.

“I’m so dependent on it,” he said quickly, without making eye contact. “I spend so much money on it. I know it’s a giant waste of money, and I know it’s bad for me.”

Holding a silver colored Juul between his thumb and index finger, Reem slowly took a hit from his mango-flavored pod.

His voice became deeper as a small stream of vapor left his lips.

“It makes me happy and it helps with stress, but I hate it,” he said.

Reem is just one of the 3.6 million young adults who Juul—or use a thin, aluminum e-cigarette made by JUUL Labs—according to a November study by the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

The company introduced the battery-powered devices in 2014, and their popularity had skyrocketed by 2016. The Juul is a modern-day vape device that can be charged on a computer or plugged into a wall outlet, like a cellphone.

The appliance, which looks like a thumb drive, heats up a pod of juice containing five ingredients: glycerol, benzoic acid, flavor, propylene glycol and nicotine.

One pod of the e-juice has the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. Reem said he goes through a pod every three days.

A pack of four pods runs $16. The device itself, including the charger, costs $35.

Since he started Juuling in 2016, Reem said he has spent roughly $1,400 on what he called his “addiction.”

Students across campus told Campus Current they routinely Juul or see others who do it at school.

In an informal poll of 10 students, nine said they have witnessed students using Juuls indoors and outdoors on the smoke-free campus.

However, most of the five professors who talked to Campus Current said they haven’t noticed it. Some said they had never seen or heard of Juuls.

“That is so gross,” English professor Tim May said after learning the pod contains nicotine. “I’ve never been so happy to be out of touch.”

But English professor Simon Ward said he not only has seen students Juuling on campus, one student used one while sitting in the front row of a composition class.

“I had turned around to write something on the board and I saw this big plume of smoke,” he said. “I asked him, ‘Are you smoking?’ The student said no, but I saw the Juul next to him on the desk. I told him he wasn’t allowed to do that in my class.”

Campus Police Officer Don Medtart said he has pulled aside several students for Juuling in parking lots, but no one has reported students Juuling inside of campus buildings.

However, Library Director Cindy Steinhoff said students who vape or Juul in the library have set off the fire alarms four times this semester.

First-year graphic design student Emily Vanderlinden, who studies regularly in the library, said she’s “seen it everywhere on campus,” including inside Truxal.

According to Police Chief Sean Kapfhammer, students on campus may smoke, vape or Juul only in their cars with the windows rolled up or down. Otherwise, none of those activities is allowed on campus.

Kapfhammer said he has not seen students Juuling on campus.

In the past year, JUUL Labs has faced public backlash over how many adolescents have become addicted to their pods and how easy they are for minors to get.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young people who are regularly exposed to nicotine can develop addictions.

Jump Start student Sierra Radivo, who is a minor, said she asks her older friends to buy her pods. It is illegal for stores to sell pods to customers younger than 18.

“I’m addicted,” she said. “It is wild to see all of these … young teens Juuling. I think it’s unhealthy but there are worse things to do.”

Radivo, who also attends Broadneck High School, said she Juuls on this campus and has never been asked to stop.

She said it is easier to Juul on campus than at Broadneck. Last spring, administrators there removed the bathroom doors to cut down on Juuling.

Jump Start student Elizabeth Riley, who also attends Broadneck, said she has seen students Juul outdoors and during her classes at AACC.

“I would be embarrassed if my addiction was so bad that I have to Juul in class,” she said.

JUUL Labs announced on Nov. 14 it would stop using social media to promote the brand and stop selling fruit-flavored pods in stores. The move came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration threatened to restrict sales because so many minors were buying them.

Stores still sell menthol-, mint- and tobacco-flavored pods.

Radivo, who said she is loyal to the mango-flavored pods, said she will most likely switch to mint because “it is too hard to order [flavored pods] online.”

Loretta Lawson-Munsey, coordinator of substance abuse education for AACC Health Services, said the pods can help smokers quit cigarettes.

Vanderlinden noted, however, “If you’re not using  it for the intended purpose, you’re going to give yourself a nicotine addiction.”

Reem said he has never gone more than one week without using his Juul.

“It’s better than a cigarette, and I know I need to stop, but I just can’t,” he said.