E-cigarette popularity has been on the rise over the past few years, but none have seen such immediate success as the company Juul has seen since its inception.

E-cigarette popularity has been on the rise over the past few years, but none have seen such immediate success as the company Juul has seen since its inception.

“Vaping” e-cigarettes has been marketed in the past as a way for smokers to more easily conquer their addiction by lowering the nicotine dosage over time, typically by using sweet-flavored e-juices. It is a double-edged sword though, as the characteristics that make it easier for people to quit make it more appealing for individuals who are more inclined to take a sweet-flavored nicotine rush over a traditional cigarette flavor.

The Juul device has proven to be different than previous vaping devices, due to its sleek and clandestine USB flash drive-shaped design and its high nicotine concentration, carrying as much nicotine in a single small pod as you would find in a pack of cigarettes. The fluid is also made of a salt-based nicotine, delivering a more “satisfying” hit than freebase nicotine without being nearly as harsh on the throat.

Students are attracted to the Juul device because it is small, can be easily mistaken for a flash drive, and leaves almost no vapor or odor when it is used, unlike other e-cigarette models. With flavors such as Fruit Medley, Creme Brulee, Mango, and Cool Cucumber, the covert device is an attractive option for younger individuals looking for an easy and discreet nicotine rush.

“Juuling” has become an epidemic within some school districts, and Montevideo is not exempt from the trend. In the past, schools in the U.S. have reported students vaping behind teachers’ backs during lectures as a type of classroom game.

According to an article published by NBC News, a Plainedge High School in Massapequa, New York decided to install detectors that monitor chemical changes in the air in their school bathrooms. When they sense a change, they alert administrators. Schools across the country are looking for similar solutions to help control the surge of students using e-cigarettes within the districts.

“I’m aware of the rise in popularity and use among kids, and I’m aware of the games students try to play behind teachers’ backs and things like that. I’m not aware of the specific device,” said high school principal Scott Hickey.

“We have procedures and policies currently in place because this would fall under tobacco use. As far as punishments go, they would follow normal school board policy. As far as this device goes, its shape and discreet nature will provide new challenges.

“We do want to be proactive. Just like any other controlled substance, we want to make sure that our kids are educated, we want to make sure our teachers are aware, and that’s something we will be doing,” said Hickey.

According to an article by consumersafety.org, Juul is now facing several lawsuits that allege they deceptively marketed the product as safe when it contains more potent doses of nicotine than cigarettes. Juul states that its products are meant for adults with an addiction who want to quit, but have also stated they will only offer lower doses of nicotine in their two flavors Cool Mint and Virginia Tobacco, which is not an effective way to keep teens from using the stronger, sweeter flavors.

When asked whether they have heard of or encountered any issues with Juuling, Adam Christopher of the Montevideo Police Department had not heard of the epidemic.

“I’ve never seen one, there’s so many devices now it’s hard to keep track of them all,” said Christopher.

Juul stands apart from other e-cigarette companies with its appealing flavors, furtive design, and its ability to cause consumers to become addicted quicker than other brands due to its extremely high nicotine content at 5 percent (around 50 mg), higher than the legal limit in the United Kingdom (20 mg).

It’s important to have alternatives to help individuals with tobacco addiction, but there are risks to some alternatives.

It’s also important to be informed and to be aware of the potential dangers nicotine use can present, especially with the vaping industry being newer compared to the traditional cigarette industry, which has had years of studies verifying and reiterating the dangers.

Vaping does not present the same dangers that smoking cigarettes presents, but it can present its own dangers, such as its appeal to a younger generation creating a new nicotine epidemic. Hopefully more studies will be conducted soon, but until then it is wise to be cautious with trends.

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