How Cool are Juuls?

Nationally over 20% of high school seniors, and 10% of eighth grade students have used vaping products


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Juuls, which look much like a USB drive, have become popular among teens across the country, including here at Tyrone.

San Francisco based PAX Labs entered the crowded electronic cigarette market in 2015 with a new product called Juul. Unlike many other entries into the market that either mimic the look of a cigarette or have a large boxy tank attached to it, Juuls small, sleek design look a lot like a computer USB drive.

While the company claims that its target audience has always been adult smokers trying to kick the habit, Juul’s compact design, fruit flavors, and youth friendly marketing campaign have led many to accuse Juul of specifically marketing their product to teens. 

I got one because all my friends had one, and I really didn’t see the big problem with it”

— Anonymous Tyrone HS student

Juuls have since become the most popular vaping product in the United States with a market share of nearly 72%, making it one of the fastest growing consumer products available today.

In fact, the product is so popular among teenagers that it’s become a verb. Millions of teens across the country are now “Juuling” despite the fact that the products are only legally allowed to be sold and used by those over 18 years of age.

According to one national study released in December, use of vaping products has nearly doubled among high school seniors in just one year, from 11 percent in 2017 to 20.9 percent in 2018.

The trend is even reaching into middle school, with more than one in 10 eighth graders (10.9 percent) reporting that they have used vaping products in the past year.

Locally, as well as nationally, the vast majority of teenagers using Juuls have never smoked cigarettes.

According to an informal survey of Tyrone students who have used Juuls, most began because of peer pressure or simple curiosity.

“I got one because all my friends had one, and I really didn’t see the big problem with it,” said one Tyrone student, “It’s not like it’s full of weed. I’m not addicted to it, I rarely do it actually, so like I don’t get why everyone hates them.”

Most Tyrone teenagers who own Juuls say they do it because their friends’ do.

“I don’t know why I got it. My friend had one and she let me borrow it that night and I liked it so I figured I’d get one too,” said another Tyrone high school student.

In response to the rapid increase in underage use of Juuls, the Food and Drug Administration recently cracked down on the company for its “kid friendly flavors” and youth-oriented marketing tactics. This led to the company to temporarily stop selling flavored pods in stores, in an attempt to decrease the rate of teenage usage.

Juul will continue to sell pods on their website, though customers will be asked to prove they are over the age of 21, which is a change to users since the original age to buy pods was 18.

Most teens who use Juuls consider them to be far less harmful than smoking. While many experts agree with that, there is still no long term research available on the health risks of vaping. 

Teens may also be addicting themselves to nicotine, which lands the Juul’s consumer as a part of the 32% of Americans who are dependent on the drug. One other major concern among health experts is that nicotine has a more harmful effect on the developing teenage brain that on adults.

Juuls aren’t incredibly pricey, which adds to their popularity. While the start up costs can range from $35 to $50, a four pack refill of pods is only $15.99, which makes them less than cigarettes once a user has made the initial investment. Other vaping products can range from $25 to $200.

While they are definitely being used by local teens, many students at Tyrone do not consider Juuling to be an epidemic, at least compared to other local schools.

One of the things that worries me is that kids don’t know the long term effects.  A lot of students, including athletes, are using them and I’m afraid it will have long term consequences for their performance and health”

— Dean of Students Luke Rhoades

“In comparison to surrounding school districts, the number of students who have Juuls or e-cigarettes at Tyrone is smaller. The popularity of Juuls in other local schools such as Altoona or Hollidaysburg is higher. Also, drugs and drinking is a lot higher since the districts are larger,” said another Tyrone student.

Since it’s illegal for students under 18 years old to own or use a Juul, underage users generally hide their habit from parents and teachers.

According to students who use Juuls, the most popular place to use them in school is the restrooms.  Unlike cigarettes, Juuls do not produce a strong lingering odor so using Juuls in the restrooms is easy for students to conceal.

According to Dean of Students Luke Rhoades, the teachers and administrators are aware of the problem and are on alert.

“I’ve already confiscated a few,” said Rhoades. “One of the things that worries me is that kids don’t know the long term effects.  A lot of students, including athletes, are using them and I’m afraid it will have long term consequences for their performance and health.”

Juuls are sold in most convenience stores and online, so they are easy to obtain, relatively cheap and convenient.

“Honestly I could have my brother get me a Juul tonight if I texted him. They’re really easy to get,” said one Tyrone student.

While the popularity of Juuls among teens is definitely on the rise, many local teens have not tried them and have no intention to do so.

“Why put harmful chemicals in the one and only body you have? Everyone says it’s fine to do because it’s just vapor when it’s not. It still has nicotine which is what rewires your brain and messes you up. It’s common sense,” said junior Dan Parker.