Fruit-flavored vapors are spreading through outdoor public spaces around the 5Cs. But it's not the result of the Motley's blender working again – it's the next big trend in smoking, and it comes in five different flavors.
Often called “cigarettes for the next generation,” JUULs are a cross between e-cigarettes and vapes that contain nicotine. The website advertises JUULs as using “nicotine salts as found in the tobacco leaf rather than free-base nicotine, unlike standard e-cigarettes.”
Considered elegant by some, JUULs look like flash drives and are chargeable through a USB port.
“If you look at all the anti-smoking ads, [juuling and vaping] is kind of like our generation’s little loophole, like we’re not going to smoke but we’ll sneak in there with something else,” said a first-year Scripps student who wished to remain anonymous about her juuling habits.
JUULs were released by PAX Labs, a San Francisco-based electronic cigarette company, in 2015, and quickly gained a reputation as a “high-end” alternative to cigarettes. As of 2014, about 2.4 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I think juuling is seen as cooler than vaping or smoking, and it’s almost because it’s more expensive,” the Scripps student said. “My main concern about juuling is how much money I’m spending on it. Sometimes I think to myself that I should stop [juuling] and start smoking cigarettes, but then I don’t want to get cancer, and all the anti-smoking ads pop into my head and stop me.”
While there is no doubt that cigarettes pose a risk to one’s health, e-cigarettes can also be harmful. The CDC does not have juul-specific data, but e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which, according to the CDC, can lead to addiction and harm to brain development.
“I kind of assume [vaping] is healthier, but I’m not that educated about it,” said a first-year Pomona student, who also asked to remain anonymous. “I assume cigarette smoking has a bunch of tar and chemicals and vaping doesn’t. I think juuling is seen pretty positively, and vaping definitely is a little bit of a meme. I know a lot of people don’t like smoking: my girlfriend hates it. A lot of people I know here are really, really against smoking, and they’re not that against vaping.”
Smoking is banned in public buildings at the 5Cs, including residence halls and in many outdoor spaces. However, only Pitzer College and Harvey Mudd College's policies explicity prohibit vaping and e-cigarettes, according to their websites, potentially creating a loophole at the other schools.
Students do not seem to have as much of a stigma about juuling as they do about smoking cigarettes. Students who smoke on cigarettes campus believe this is a result of negative cigarette advertising that has become commonplace in the United States in the last few decades.
“I think [the negative view of smoking is] an American thing, and also a class thing,” a different first-year Pomona student said. “Smoking is often treated as a working-class addiction, and I’m not saying that’s the background of everyone who smokes, but I do think it carried that connotation, especially in anti-smoking marketing.”
Another Pomona student, who smokes cigarettes regularly, said they hardly know anyone who smokes cigarettes at the 5Cs.
“Here, it’s extremely hard to bum a cig, because no one smokes; it’s an incredible inconvenience,” the student said. “I’ve had a JUUL every now and then, just to satisfy my nicotine cravings, but it doesn’t burn in the same way – it’s not as satisfying for me.”
Tyler Benedict SC ‘21 uses her vape regularly, but doesn’t juul. Though she began vaping as a social activity with friends, she now finds that vaping helps her concentrate.
“As someone who actually vapes and doesn’t juul, I think that there’s almost a meme around actually vaping,” she said. “If I’m at a party and I blow a cloud of vape, people are like, 'What the hell is that?' I definitely think it’s more compact to have a JUUL [than a vape], and it’s definitely 'cooler' to juul. For me, I find that if I’m tired, getting some nicotine in my system can push me to stay up for another hour to do homework. I feel like with a vape rather than a cigarette I’m not risking my lung health as much.”
The anonymous Scripps student does juul, and said she knows that cigarettes are bad, “but there aren’t as many studies on vapes or juuls so that almost makes me feel better about it.”