Sleek, silent and easily disguised as a USB drive, the JUUL, a common e-cigarette, has taken young adults by storm since it surged to popularity in 2017. But for those JUUL users with a sweet tooth, flavor options are about to become a bit more limited.
Aligning with critics who say JUUL’s fruity flavors appeal to minors, the Food and Drug Administration has demanded the e-cigarette company pull flavors such as mango, creme, fruit and cucumber from store shelves. Soon, the only JUUL flavors available for in-store purchase will be mint, tobacco and menthol.
Natavia Mitchell, psychology senior, said majority of her peers use the flavored e-cigarette.
“About 60 to 70 percent of people I know use JUUL,” she said. “Personally, I have very bad anxiety, so when I’m studying, it helps to just be able to pick something up and calm my nerves.”
August Peropersi, marketing senior, goes through a “pod” and a half of JUUL liquid each day, which is equivalent to about 30 cigarettes worth of nicotine.
“Everyone uses JUUL,” Peropersi said. “I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life, but I’d always use my friend’s JUUL when I’d be with him. Eventually I was like, you know what, I’m just going to buy my own. And ever since, I’ve been hooked.”
According to preliminary data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, e-cigarette use among high school students has risen by 75 percent in the past year. At the same time, JUUL sales have skyrocketed by 800 percent, allowing the company to occupy 73 percent of the e-cigarette market.
FDA’s JUUL flavor ban went into effect in late November. While some smoke shops and e-cigarette retailers may still have mango, creme, fruit and cucumber flavors in stock, new shipments will no longer be accepted.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gotlieb has marked the ban as a major landmark in the battle against nicotine addiction.
“It is our solemn mandate to make nicotine products less accessible and less appealing to children,” Gotlieb said in an official statement. “I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 30 percent of teenage e-cigarette users begin smoking cigarettes within six months of vaping e-cigarettes.
Aria Irrizary, design senior, believes e-cigarettes are a gateway to lifelong nicotine addiction.
“It’s weird to have it in these candy flavors and candy-covered packaging,” she said. “A lot of people on campus have been getting into JUULs recently, people who didn’t smoke cigarettes before.”
However, some students disagree with the FDA’s decision. Mitchell, who prefers JUUL’s creme flavor, said the ban is unfair.
“I’d even support tobacco upping the age from 18 to 21, but I don’t see why we should be punished when it’s an issue with children,” she said. “Plus, kids will get access to whatever they want…just like they do with marijuana.”
Alexis Martin, music industry studies junior, prefers the mango flavor. He also opposes the ban.
“I’ve never smoked one cigarette since I started JUULing,” he said. “I get that with JUUL you’re still addicted to nicotine, but at least your lungs don’t go black after two packs.”
Despite this sentiment, recent studies suggest e-cigarettes could have dangerous long-term effects. Michelle Hicks-Turner, manager of health promotion at the American Lung Association, spearheads research on e-cigarette toxicity.
“The research shows that e-cigarettes may contain dangerous chemicals including diacetyl, which can cause a dangerous lung disease often referred to as popcorn lung,” Hicks-Turner said.
Arto Kazakov, digital communication sophomore, believes there may be dangerous long-term health effects associated with using a JUUL.
“My roommate from last year’s … lungs collapsed from JUULing,” Kazakov said. “Everyone thinks it’s a healthy alternative, but there’s no longer term study. We are the long term study. We’re the guinea pigs for this product. We are the test animals.”
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