The Boomers are taking our Juuls

What happened to the good ole’ days, when children were content with smoking a pack of Camel cigarettes with their friends? The bitter, lingering smell of cigarettes has been replaced by a repugnant, sweet mango scent. It’s disgusting.

Juul and other e-cigarettes were designed to quit smoking, although they have drawn criticism for ad campaigns and marketing geared towards teenagers. Critics such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids claim that candy or sweet pods are targeting children as first time nicotine users. Having sweet, fruity flavors seems like an unnecessary feature for those who already smoke cigarettes. Mint and fruit flavored pods have since been discontinued by Juul.

Older generations have a difficult time understanding why teenagers have been drawn to the mango and mint pods. The same generations criticizing Generation-Z and Millennials became addicted to nicotine by smoking cigarettes, with full knowledge of the dangers of lung cancer. 

Cigarettes were linked to cancer by the scientific community as early as the 1940s, and despite brilliant ad campaigns launched by big tobacco, the general public widely accepted lung cancer research linked to smoking.

So, the assault on Juuls can somewhat be explained by the cyclical vendetta of older generations against the younger ones. The counterculture hippie movement of the 1960s tore young anti-Vietnam sentiment from the older, traditional American values. The sexual liberation fueled by contraceptives and birth control also alienated the generations from one another.

Vaping has become an epidemic, and it should be addressed as such. With so many teenagers addicted to nicotine, banning Juuls will turn youth toward smoking. Juuls will keep young people away from cigarettes. If we could go back in time and prevent Juuls from ever hitting the market, we would. However, far too many students are already addicted to nicotine. The National Youth Tobacco Survey found that over 3.6 million children used e-cigarettes in 2018. Banning Juuls could turn those addicted toward cigarettes.

The dangers of e-cigarettes should be taught, because there certainly is a misconception that vaping isn’t harmful to health. But the anti-Juul sentiment has progressed into familiar territory reminiscent of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign. The issue of youth addiction to nicotine will not be solved with an outright ban on e-cigarettes, the same way abstinence based drug prevention didn’t work. 

Education into the harmful effects of Juuling should be emphasized. But pretending that a Juul ban will help young people is a philosophy equivalent with preventing teen pregnancy by teaching abstinence. Too many young people are already addicted to nicotine, and a ban on Juuls could turn them toward cigarettes.

This is by no means a defense of the Juuling trend. It is a call to acknowledge the epidemic for what it is, and to combat the misleading sentiment being pushed by the media. At the time of writing, 34 people have died from vape-related illness, and our government is forming plans to ban e-cigarettes, in particular President Trump’s proposed ban all flavored e-cigarettes. We are rushing for the most obvious solution to this problem to save face while exacerbating more complex problems with those solutions.