Milky clouds of smoke can be seen exiting the mouths of countless students across campus. The smoke isn’t from cigarettes but from a flash drive-looking device called a Juul.
In the past year, Juul Labs — the electronic cigarette company which produces Juuls — has generated $224 million in retail sales, according to Business Insider.
Wayne State sophmore Murtaza Usuf said he would consider himself a Juuler and has been doing it since his freshman year of college.
“To be honest, I started Juuling because all of my friends did it. It was a classic case of conforming to your friend group,” Usuf said while hitting his Juul. “I don’t really know why I Juul. The thing is that I always feel like I have to Juul. I start thinking about hitting my Juul if I’m bored in class. I notice that my brain constantly craves it, and I become low-key irritable.”
The Juul uses a patented formula of nicotine salts. The nicotine salts are derived from tobacco leaves, which makes the smoke smooth and clean. Each Juul pod is equal to about 20 cigarettes and most people go through a pod every few days, according to the Truth Initiative.
The company states on its website that its mission is to improve the lives of one billion adult smokers, and this can be the case for many Juulers.
“I Juul because I’m trying to quit smoking but to be honest, I think cigarettes are more convenient,” said junior Lizz Scofield. “However, I definitely hit my Juul more than my cigarettes because I can do it indoors discreetly without an odor."
A starter kit is $49.99, and a device kit is $34.99. Each kit comes with the a Juul device and a USB charger. Pods, which typically come in a pack of four, cost $15.99, according to the company’s website.
Smokers can save $1,000 or more a year by switching to vaping, according to Juul Labs’s website.
“So far this year I have spent $500 or more just on the Juul itself and the battery,” said Jake Bissell, a WSU sophomore. “I have probably spent about $1,500 on pods.”
The side effects of Juuling are still being researched. According to the National Center for Health Research, nicotine is proven to reduce activity in the prefrontal cortex and leads to greater impulsivity and sensitivity to other drugs.
The Juul pods come in different flavors like mint, creme, fruit and mango. These flavors are a major reason why adolescents are attracted to the Juul, according to National Center for Health Research.
“I don’t find the smoke as satisfying because it took me a while to get used to all of the flavors,” Scofield said. “I’m not into all the fruity stuff but even the tobacco flavor is gross.”
The product is intended for adults of legal purchase age and those who are trying to quit smoking, according to the company’s mission statement.
Joely Reznik, WSU sophomore, said she was a former Juuler but had to quit after she noticed it was taking a toll on her health.
“It started when my friend bought a Juul. I constantly would hit hers and finally I bought out. It was during my senior year of high school when I started to consistently vape or Juul,” Reznik said. “I thought it looked cool, which is stupid, but I also enjoyed the nicotine buzz. Around April of this year I started to become really anxious and I sounded like I had bronchitis all of the time. I noticed I would feel like crap plus I was spending $20 almost every week for pods.”
Reznik further said that her coworker, who was a constant vaper, wound up in the hospital due to popcorn lung. Popcorn lung is a condition where the lungs’ smallest airways are damaged or scarred. Symptoms include exhaustion, dry cough and shortness of breath, according to WebMD.
“I had a coworker who was put into a coma because her lungs were infected. It started off as popcorn lung then she was hospitalized for a couple weeks,” she said. “She’s fine now but at the time it was horrifying to realize what vaping can actually do. After I heard about her, I threw my Juul out the window and never looked back.”
Although many students Juul for various reasons, it is evident that Juul has become very popular with college students across the nation. At times, it is easy to spot the vape clouds rising to the ceiling in the Undergraduate Library or in the Student Center.
“I just hope that people realize what they’re doing,” said Reznik. “Everything in moderation as they say, but these devices don’t allow that. This company’s main goal is to get you highly addicted to their product so just remember that if you’re thinking of buying a Juul.”
Cover photo by Jonathan Deschaine.