Juul Pod Dangers

Juul: Harmless or Extremely Dangerous?

Joe Mormino, Writer

In the United States, the retailing and selling of cigarettes are heavily regulated by several state and city governments, and minors under the age of 18-21 are prohibited from possessing, buying, or using them at all. However, tobacco companies have found and taken advantage of loopholes of the current legislation in an attempt to bring in higher profits, by way of selling products that emulate the sensation of smoking a traditional cigarette. One especially notorious product of this type is called an electronic cigarette, or an e-cig for short.

The e-cigarette industry has been extremely profitable, generating an estimated $12.2 billion in sales in the United States from 2014-2018 according to Statista.com. Tobacco companies sell and market e-cigarettes to a specific target audience, which includes people that desire to quit smoking traditional cigarettes and young adults, but there is one specific demographic that has a higher potential to get hooked on e-cigarettes than any other group of people: teenagers.

According to the U.S. government, teens are more likely to use e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes, and 7 out of 10 teens are exposed to advertisements and marketing for e-cigarettes (which are not subject to the same rules as traditional cigarettes in terms of ways to advertise such as TV, which tobacco companies have been banned from advertising on since 1971). In addition, the majority of teen e-cigarette users say that they use flavoring in their e-cigarettes, and there has been one particular e-cigarette brand that has recently used a combination of flavoring and heavy marketing on Internet platforms frequented by teenagers to successfully sell its products whilst being a lightning rod for controversy based upon its allegedly deceptive practices. Enter Juul.

Juul is an e-cigarette that was first sold in 2015 and is known for its pods, which contain protonated nicotine salts sourced from leaf-based tobacco as its key ingredient and come in various flavorings (e.g. mango, crème, watermelon, mint, tobacco, etc.), which are smoked to deliver the aforementioned sensation of smoking a typical cigarette. However, Juul is different from traditional cigarettes in that a single pod contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of traditional cigarettes, and said nicotine is protonated (meaning that it lacks the strength and harshness of tobacco smoke, therefore allowing smokers to have the ability to inhale larger concentrations of nicotine than if it was unprotonated). This is problematic because nicotine has been proven to be an extremely addictive chemical and has many negative effects when it is inhaled.

“The dangers of nicotine are that it is highly addictive and can cause anything from cancer, loss of teeth, gum inflammation, and staining of the fingers by smoking it,” said Maria Gordillo, a nurse working at North Kansas City High School.