Movie stars used to smoke cigarettes. On camera, illuminated by a cloud of smoke, celebrities promised that with smoking, one would achieve a charmed life and a popular way to pass time. Movies romanticized nicotine so much that the percentage of high schoolers smoking rose from 20% in 1985 to 25% a decade later.  Yet, after the groundbreaking discovery of the harmful effects of cigarette smoking, the percentage of smokers dropped. The public no longer saw glitz and glamour in nicotine, and the current mindset on smoking took an entirely different direction. Smoking cigarettes is portrayed as dirty and filthy in current media. Yet, it’s a vice that has been replaced by another form of nicotine: juuling.

Shaped like a USB flash drive, or a long flat tube, a juul holds pods of nicotines that are artificially flavored. This is what has dominated the e-cigarette market, and this is what has teens as young as 14 years old smoking nicotine. Articles bemoan the age we are in now, the one where foolish kids enjoy smoking mango-flavored nicotine.

However, its more worrying than that. The FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently announced that the department was working to stop the “epidemic” of teen vaping. Retailers of vaping apparel are facing enforcement action that ranges from selling e-cigarettes to minors, and of warning manufacturers of a possible ban against their products.

Supporters of Juul and vaping products claim that the FDA is overreacting. Teen nicotine use is at a new low according to one survey, and e-cigarettes help those who are trying to stop smoking cigarettes. However, opponents of the product claim that those who use Juul move forward towards harder drugs or even smoke after Juul. Additionally, social media has encouraged the youth that this is cool and fashionable-the same tactic used to market cigarettes. If you want to be like one of your favorite celebrities, buy a Juul.

On either side of the argument, there are valid points. But this is something that we have seen before, and an issue that we are still struggling to end today. Organizations like truth try their hardest to use social media and celebrities to advocate to end cigarette use in teens, but the battle of nicotine is very hard for younger people to want to be involved in. Social media is full of people urging young people not to smoke just as much as there are people showing off their smoke clouds. Going as far to say that Juuling is an epidemic may sound dramatic. Insisting that it it is a phase glazes over the facts of nicotine use and teenagers. The truth is, vaping could be both. Organizations and people can try to motivate people to participate in vaping or make them dislike it, but at the end of the day it is a person’s choice to smoke whether it be to appear suave or to satisfy the nicotine craving.

Photo: Ruslan Alekso

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