JUULers Anonymous

The illegal vaping culture at WHS


What’s the buzz.

Noelia Arteaga, Staff Writer

Cigarettes are becoming a thing of the past among American teens, with abuse being almost non-existent in Woodside High School teens. Instead, teenagers are using JUUL’s to get that pleasurable nicotine “headrush.”

Some people drink. We JUUL.”

— JUULer #4

If one were to walk into one of the bathrooms at Woodside High School, it is very likely they would see a group of students in a huddle sucking on what seems to be a USB drive while the aroma of a sweet mint fills the room. But beware, don’t let the innocent design and delightful smell pull you into the illegal practice of vaping.

“I like to JUUL with my friend’s in the bathroom, in the back of class; really anywhere we can get away with it,” explained JUULER #4. “I JUUL to bond with my friend’s and be social. We like to JUUL because sometimes being high is annoying and frustrating. JUULing is temporary. Some people drink. We JUUL.”

In the 90’s and  2000’s, cigarette smoking among teens was at an all time high. According to a study by the Adolescent Office of Health, in 1997 cigarette use among teens was at a high of 23.1% and in 2000, 20% of teens smoked cigarettes. This number gradually dropped to 11% by the end of the decade in 2009 . However, 11% of American teens is still a large number considering there are 40 million teens in America. But in 2015, this number dropped to a low 5.5% for senior smokers and 3% for sophomores. What caused this dramatic decline?

Introducing the JUUL! JUULs, a form of vaporizer, are considered by smokers as a “healthier” alternative for cigarettes that still give you the pleasurable nicotine rush. These vaporizers are considered “safer” by users because the intoxicating hot smoke from cigarettes is replaced by the JUULs cool thin vapor.

“JUUL juice comes in like 5 flavors I think,” explained JUULer #5. “My favorite one is the cucumber pod because it’s cool in your throat. You don’t cough as much.”

But why are JUULs gaining popularity among high school students and not other forms of vaporizers? Well, one of the factors is it’s unsuspicious design. The JUUL looks like a USB flash drive or portable charger that is no longer than 4 inches, which makes it easy to hide. It also has no buttons or marks that indicates it’s a vaporizing device except for the name JUUL indented on the bottom part of the device. However, even then you would need to know that JUUL is a vaporizer brand to understand what the device is.

“JUUL is always plugged into my computer for charging so people just assume it’s a USB drive or HotSpot antenna. I can even have it out on my desk and teachers won’t know what it is, ” explains anonymous JUULer #1. 

Aside from being discrete, JUULs are very customizable. Many artists have taken advantage of this booming new trend among young adults and are designing, printing, and selling skins for JUULs. Skins are stickers the size and shape of a JUUL that can be wrapped around a JUUL as protection while also making the distinction of ones JUUL easier. Some of the most popular skins are the Gucci print, Louis Vuitton print, Supreme print, Rick and Morty skin, Holographic designs, and Tie-Dye prints. This ability to customize and personalize your JUUL has caught the attention of many teens.

Anonymous JUULer #2 shares that his JUUL skin is a “a white with colorful Louis Vuitton logos” and JUULer #3 says his JUUL is “Gucci themed.”

The high nicotine concentration in JUULpods (0.7ml with 5% nicotine by weight) creates a headrush that relaxes the user. Many stressed students taking challenging courses have resorted to JUULing to feel more relaxed during class or while doing homework.

“It really relaxes me during my AS English I class,”explained JUULer #1. “I usually get panicky before a big essay or test, but if I hit my JUUL I will automatically feel better.”

Other JUULers explain that it feels like a temporary marijuana high as they feel extremely buzzed but then back to normal in a few minutes. Marijuana intoxication can last up to 24 hours from a single smoking session, while the JUUL buzz never lasts more than 10 minutes. This makes it much easier to abuse the JUULpod because you have to keep hitting it over and over again to obtain that head rush coveted head rush. Nicotine is an addictive substance and users can build tolerance. Therefore, if the first time it only takes 2 hits to get buzzed, the next time one wants to feel that same buzz again, they will need to take 4 hits and then 6 and then 8 and so on.

According to JUUL Labs,One JUULpod is approximately equivalent to 1 pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs. Each JUULpod contains 0.7mL with 5% nicotine by weight.” On average, heavier smokers smoke 1 pack a day for 20 year or 2 packs a day for 10 years, according to Livestrong.com. Luckily, not very many Wildcats go through more than 1 pod a day.

Despite being the hottest item of the year, many students do not approve on indulging in the art of JUULing.

Anti-JUULer #1 believes “it’s such a waste of money and not worth the overall experience. It gets people hooked so easily and results in JUULer’s buying more and more pods.”

JUULing and vaping have not been around long enough to prove that lung cancer is a consequence, but other problems have appeared. Many users have experience what is known as “nic sick”. Nic sick is when you have too much nicotine that you get hard pains in your stomach and have a pounding headache. People often vomit in order to get rid of the nicotine in their system, and as a result are usually bedridden.

In the state of California, the use and/or sale of any tobacco and/or nicotine product is illegal for anyone under the age of 21. So if it is illegal for teens to buy and use these products then how are they getting their hands on them? There are 2 common ways teens get hold of these products. The first and most obvious way is people 21 and older selling these products to teens. Many adults profit from selling the product 5-10 dollars more than the original price because teens can’t buy these products on their own. Also, teens with older cousins and siblings above the age restriction can easily obtain these products from them.

“My brother is 23 and JUULs as well, so whenever he goes to the smoke shop he just buys me pods and I will pay him when he gets them to me,” explained JUULer #3. “We have an agreement and neither of us snitches to mom.”

The second way teens obtain JUUL products are purchasing them online. The online JUUL store does not have a effective way to verify age, which makes it very easy for many teens to order their products. 

It is no doubt cigarettes are no longer considered cool. With the decline of cigarettes, Teens have found an ingenious way to mess up their brains for a long time and with the advanced technology, teens will have better access and new ways to do this.

“Something needs to be done to gear kids away from these dangerous substances,” explained Lourdes Scamander, a worried WHS parent. “But in the end, they are teens and they want to experiment. They just need to learn to have limits. If a JUUL will keep my kid away from Heroine, then maybe I can work with that.”