Juuling up a storm: JUUL usage increases on campus

Isabella Gentile, Features Editor

Walking to class these days might lead to a puff of smoke in one’s face and smelling the overly sweet scent of a fruity mix. This phenomenon has possibly become all too familiar on campus, due to students’ increased juuling on school grounds. 

A JUUL is a type of e-cigarette that was introduced in 2015. It is a miniature product, small enough to fit in a pants pocket, and it has become overwhelmingly popular among high school and college-aged students. Different flavored pods have been sold for the JUUL, including flavors that entice young users, like mango, creme brûlée, fruit and cucumber.

Young adults across the nation are using this product, but it strikes particularly close to home given that RWU community members are seeing more and more students using JUULs. Donna Darmody, director of health education and alcohol/drug prevention coordinator, commented that she has been one of the witnesses of students utilizing their JUULs more frequently.

“I have personally seen students puffing at least five times this semester walking in front of me on the way back from Commons,” she said. 

It is not just the faculty and staff on campus or members of older generations who see an issue with this on campus. There are also students who have seen JUUL usage become prevalent in the community.

Alissa Assad, member of the Health and Wellness Educators (HAWEs) on campus, said, “Even as students on campus, we have witnessed an increased number of students with JUULS/JUULing.”

RWU has designated areas for smoking on campus, known by community members as the “Butt Huts,” where students or faculty are welcome to smoke. It does not seem as though students are adhering to this rule when it comes to JUULing. There is a more pressing concern revolving JUUL usage, however, which pertains to the negative health impacts that the item carries.

According to the manufacturer of JUUL, a single JUUL pod has as much nicotine as one regular pack of 20 cigarettes. Scientists are still studying the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the nicotine within these products is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development. Nicotine alone has also been found to increase cancer risks and respiratory problems. Additionally, using e-cigarettes like JUULs could put adolescents at increased risk for smoking cigarettes or becoming addicted to other drugs in the future.

After noticing this was an issue on campus, the HAWEs decided to create a poster campaign on JUULing, drawing students’ attention to the harmful effects of the chemicals within the e-cigarette. The purpose of the campaign is not to tell students how they should live their lives, but rather to bring awareness to the facts surrounding JUULing. The posters show images of people smoking JUULs with captions that display studied negative health impacts, like mouth ulcers, muscle spasms and heartburn. 

“We found it important to share this information with students so they are not ignorant to the fact that although JUULs may have decreased toxins in comparison to cigarettes, they still tend to produce similar negative health outcomes,” Assad said.

The last time that RWU students were surveyed on the issue of e-cigarette use was in 2014, with the ACHA National College Health Assessment. Given the evidence from personal accounts regarding increased JUULing on campus, collecting students’ opinions on the problem now that JUULs are such a popular product might be worth considering.