‘Crown JUUL’: Delaware’s vaping phenomenon
EVENTS AND CULTURE EDITOR
Since hitting the market in 2015, the mini vape, JUUL, has exploded in popularity and allowed its parent company, JUUL Labs, to become the top e-cigarette producer on the market. According to then-JUUL Labs CEO Tyler Goldman in October 2017, the 20 million products they were producing each month still fell short of increasing demand. As JUUL began to take the nicotine world by storm, university communities across the nation were quick to embrace the trend.
“The kids love them, I mean they do have a lot of nicotine in them,” Brian Frost, a clerk at Frolic Glass on Main Street, says. “We have seven stores across the tri-state area, and when it got popular in Philly, everyone starting asking for them so we started carrying them here.”
Aside from the significant buzz, Frost adds that the JUUL’s offerings both separate it from competing products and make it popular.
“As far as the ease of use, people seem to really like it, and it’s a relatively better thing to do than smoke cigarettes, I feel like it’s become a new standard,” Frost says.
For students like Matthew Fischer, an alternative to cigarettes was precisely the reason to pick up a JUUL and, with its arrival, an opportunity to quit cigarettes altogether.
“It started out with me being addicted to cigarettes freshman year, some nights I would smoke a pack to two packs a night during parties,” Matthew Fischer, a senior at the university, says. “And then JUUL came out and so I wanted quit, and I started smoking the JUUL but I kinda got addicted to that.”
Over the next few years, Fischer says he was on-again, off-again with both JUUL and cigarettes. Now, he is two months without a cigarette and no longer has a JUUL.
The JUUL’s design has raised ethical questions about the product and its impact. For a product marketed at helping people leave cigarettes, the fact that each JUUL pod has a nicotine equivalent of a pack of cigarettes is causing a stir in the media. Its ease of use, a generous warranty from JUUL Labs and small, sleek design make it easy to always to have one on your person.
But even for students who have no history of tobacco habits, JUUL still has appeal.
“Kids don’t do it for that [quitting cigarettes], and I think that is stupid,” Fischer says. “Everyone thinks its cool to smoke JUUL, and I get annoyed with that culture of it, because I did it for an actual reason, to quit cigarettes as it’s meant for. Whereas other kids just do it because they think it’s cool.”
Fischer addressed another issue that many JUUL users do not know much about, or choose to overlook: health effects.
While it’s true that JUUL and its competitors’ products lack many of the toxic chemicals that cigarettes have shipped with for decades, the scientific community still agrees that JUULS are not “healthy” as some assert, and are at best, less health averse than cigarettes.
Darren D’mello, a senior at the university, agrees with the current skepticism but adds that with all the students who are “JUULing” on campus, there needs to be more research and education.
“When it comes to vaping, since it’s so new, we still haven’t seen the full-term effects of it yet, so there is no real promise that these chemicals won’t prove to be carcinogenic,” D’mello says. “But at the same time, from the biological knowledge we have so far, we know that the chemicals involved in e-cigarettes are a lot safer than the chemicals we know are in cigarettes.”
D’mello thinks the outlook for JUUL is good given its popularity and effectiveness, but is wary of newcomers seeking to challenge it.
“I think it can be a really good product when it comes to helping people who have smoked,” D’mello says. “I think the hype will die down at some point when other products enter and as new things become hype, but for people who want to quit cigarettes, the JUUL will stick around for some time.”