The Juul Craze: Science and Sense

The Juul Craze: Science and Sense

by McKenna Fellows, Staff Writer
It’s no secret that the vaping epidemic has flooded this generation in a matter of months. We know it as none other than ‘Juul’, a company with a mission to “improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes.” Established in 2015 by two regular smokers, Juul began by targeting an adult audience with the hopes of immediate success. However, as citizens of all ages discovered the e-cigarette that tasted, smelled, and felt good to use, a new window of opportunity opened for the corporation. 
Kent Moll, father to Keely ‘22, Charlie ‘21 and Latin alum Kenny Moll ‘19, has recently assisted in filing a nationwide class action case against Juul, with the end goal of creating “regulation, information, and education” of the dangers of nicotine. This lawsuit has brought jarring light to the corporation’s illegal marketing tactics— ones that trick children into smoking e-cigarettes without being informed of the amount of nicotine in the product, as well as its extreme negative effects. “Children think they are invincible,” Moll says, “and Juul knows that most 14 to 18 year olds aren’t smart enough not to be captivated by its appeal.” Statistics support Moll’s statement, revealing that of Juul’s 10,000 active followers, over 60% are under Illinois’ legal age of 21. This is largely due to how “hip” it has become to vape. 
Sophomore Nina Burik notes, “Because our generation is so vulnerable with respect to the Juul epidemic, it is crucial that we both open the conversation regarding substance abuse while being smart about the advertisements being fed to us.” With the help of paid influencers, the marketing strategies of these companies have become increasingly successful, leading their audience to assume that “if even a celebrity can enjoy Juuling, it must be cool,” Moll said. Ploys like these are exactly the kind that have proved so triumphant in reeling teens into this world of fashionable vaping, regardless of the hundreds of fatal effects with which it comes. 
It is difficult for many teenagers to see past the trendy aura that surrounds e-cigarette corporations, leaving many to succumb to its false advertisement. What many neglect to recognize, however, is the science behind it all. From its debut up until recently, Juul has remained steadfast in its proclamation that one pod is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes. Simply put, this could not be more untrue. Moll and his firm illuminated the fact that not only has Juul been able to multiply its nicotine content by up to a factor of five, but it has masked all of this using ingredients such as propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. These additives, once lit by a coil, can release manganese and zinc— two well-known carcinogens. When these enter the lungs, cells that are intended to fight immunity break down and are exposed to bacteria, causing potential lung infection and pneumonia. 
“Picture it this way,” Moll said. “If you wipe a bunch of oil on a sponge and you try to squeeze water through, nothing can get in. Not even air.” This is exactly what occurs when oil from breathing vapor begins to seal the air pockets in one’s lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Such oil has macrophages, “like Pac-Man, that go around eating up foreign objects in the body,” Moll said. Biopsies of lungs with Juul issues have shown that macrophages with oil substance in them cannot fight against impurities, causing them to die. As a result, cellular structures within the lungs break down altogether, leading to thousands of cases of lung disease, heart disease, seizures, lung collapse, and pneumonia. 
Since August 30, 2019, more than 800 injuries and 12 deaths have been reported with ties to vaping, with hundreds more unreported. And while many are quick to dismiss these statistics as long as they are untouched by them, the fatalities e-cigarettes have brought upon this generation are rapidly increasing. Those affected are among us— in school, sports, family and beyond— though it may not yet be apparent. 
“After hearing about Juul and its harmful effects alone, I have become infinitely more conscious about what I am putting in my body,” junior Olivia Syftestad said. Olivia’s newfound awareness is for good reason, as Moll later shared that “Any pulmonologist will say that breathing in microfilaments is not what lungs can handle,” and, quoting one of his favorite scientists, imparted, “You shouldn’t need a scientist to tell you that drinking water is not the same as breathing water.”