It has been seven minutes since I last Juuled.
I bought a JUUL two weeks ago to offset my pack-a-day smoking habit. I tried to resist the USB-sucking trend for a long time. It seemed expensive and pointless, but I knew that smoking cigarettes was terrible for my lungs and bank account. It helped me manage the daily stressors that accompany college life. It was a way to expand my social circle and puff cigs with people I wouldn’t have met in the nonsmoking demographic. In fact, I met one of my best friends while smoking.
I began to crack when I tried my friend’s JUUL in place of a smoke break. The cold, mango-flavored air jabbed me in the back of my throat, similar to a hit of a cigarette. After a few more puffs, I decided to stay inside.
In the past two years, I have spent $2,912 on cigarettes. I could have been paying off my suffocating student loans. I could have gotten myself a (used) car. I could have taken a trip to Montana. I could have supported a children’s charity. I could have invested it and been incredibly rich by now. But there I was with almost $3,000 of tar in my lungs.
That disappointing mathematical journey was the final push I needed to go to the nearest gas station and get myself a JUUL. It has been two weeks and one day, and I no longer smell like a stale ashtray. I smell like hibiscus flowers and accumulation of sweat from my walk across campus. I can fit more air into my lungs. Juuling has seemingly rescued my tar-filled lungs and nearly-negative bank account. And the company is pulling down profit at the same time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, JUUL’s 2017 sales have grown almost seven times over that of 2016.
JUUL was originally created to help people like me intake nicotine without the tar, paint thinners and formaldehyde. And it worked. But now, an entirely new generation of nonsmokers is in the market. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attacked the vaping industry for marketing devices and flavors toward teenagers and, in September, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb referred to the increase in teens using e-cigarettes as an epidemic.
It’s a little dramatic, but I see where he’s coming from. They’re everywhere. Even I inched away from cigarettes and sprinted toward the JUUL.
When you decide to buy a JUUL, you decide to join a cultural shift. In the 60s, people smoked cigarettes to be productive. To calm down. To be cool. To pass the time. To be a part of something.
People don’t smoke cigarettes in restaurants, malls and movie theaters anymore. We don’t like Twiggy; we like The 1975. We have gone from Ponyboy to Post Malone. From Hepburn to Halsey. From Yoko to Yoni eggs. From Camel Crush to Cool Cucumber. If we’re being honest, has anything changed?