FDA takes an L: teens still vaping

There’s no denying that JUUL Lab’s extremely popular JUUL e-cigarettes aren’t just used by adult smokers who are on the road to a nicotine free life. The product has blown up in the past two years with 11.7% of high schools students currently using e-cigarettes, according to the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey. In 2011, just 1.5% of high school students used JUUL products. JUUL Labs has been the fastest company ever to reach deacon status, which is a company worth ten billion or more.  

After the FDA announced an underaged vaping epidemic, JUUL Labs pulled mango, fruit, creme, and cucumber flavored “pods” of shelves of 90,000 retailers. JUUL Labs also deleted its Instagram and Facebook accounts to remove its online presence in order to further combat underage nicotine usage.

JUUL stated that the flavors will still be available online for anyone 21 and over. JUUL also confirmed that they plan to bring the flavors back into retail stores as soon as there are stricter age-verification policies put in place.

With JUULs and other vaping devices being used by about 2 million teens nationwide, there is no doubt that they are at DHS as well. How does this ban effect JUUL’s largest sale group? Is the ban effective? Due to the nature of this article, all interviews and interviewees are kept anonymous. The following content does not reflect the views of El Diablo or its staff members.

There is no doubt there are students that are juuling at Durango High School.

“In the bathrooms, in the parking lot, they are too easy to hide,” reports one DHS student. A JUUL’s appearance has often been compared to a USB drive and the device’s small, lightweight, and discreet design makes it easily concealable from parents and educators. Although not every adult is clueless, “Administration has really been cracking down this year. I know a lot of people who have been searched and suspended for having a JUUL on school grounds.”

When asked if the discontinuation of popular flavors was effective in eliminating underaged use, many DHS students, with no surprise,  had very different views than the FDA

“Almost everyone who JUULs has a nicotine addiction and banning flavors won’t stop them from getting what they need,” one DHS student reports. One JUUL pod has an amount of nicotine equivalent to one pack of cigarettes, so it’s no wonder many teens have found themselves addicted.

JUUL left mint, methanol, and tobacco flavors on shelves.

“I don’t feel discouraged because there are other flavors and even though they might not taste as good, they accomplish the same thing,” said another student.

“Honestly I’m fine with this whole ban thing. Everyone has found a way around the rules in the first place and mint has always been my favorite, I thought some of the flavors that were banned are pretty gross,” said another student.

On the other hand, one student speaks about their experience with JUUL use and how the ban seems to have encouraged users to stop, or move to another product.

“With the banning, I definitely don’t really see a reason to own a JUUL anymore, and I was really wanting to quit anyway,” shares one student, who was seemingly affected  in the way that FDA and JUUL Labs intended. “However, I still know a lot of people that got around the banning… whether they bought in bulk or are getting it online… and it’s still really hard to quit because it’s still really present around me,” they share further. A true statement, with many underage users getting and buying JUUL products from older students and friends who are of age.

Even with some teen users being encouraged to quit with the ban, it seems that the use of vape products around teens is still continuing to expand.

“I would say that the tactics are working with me, but as I said, a lot of people are still managing to get pods. Right when the ban hit, I knew a ton of people who just switched to Sourin, Blu, and Innokin,” said the same student. The products referenced are all vape products, some very similar to JUUL that offer the same fruity and teen-favorite flavors JUUL Labs and the FDA is trying to eliminate in order to get teens to quit.

With the market for vape products so vast, and flavors that teens enjoy, it appears that vaping will not leave the parking lots and hallways of high schools anytime soon. Though it appears JUUL Labs and the FDA have made some progress toward their goal, teens continue to find ways around it. The problem? JUUL Labs is too large of a company and distributes 73% of vape products in the U.S. Until it and the FDA find a way to manage teen vaping in a more effective way, students will continue to “feen” off of each other’s vape products in the bathroom during passing period.