Meet Juul, the Latest Teen Sensation

Richard B. Levine/Levine Roberts/Newscom via ZUMA

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Cigarette smoking may be on the decline, but vaping is on the rise. The Wall Street Journal reports that the popularity of the Juul among high-school kids is skyrocketing:

After two decades of declining teen cigarette use, “Juuling” is exploding. The Juul liquid’s 5% nicotine concentration is significantly higher than that of most other commercially available e-cigarettes. Juul Labs Inc., maker of the device, says one liquid pod delivers nicotine comparable to that delivered by a pack of cigarettes, or 200 puffs—important for adult smokers trying to switch to an e-cigarette. It is also part of what attracts teens to the product, which some experts say is potentially as addictive as cigarettes and has schools and parents scrambling to get a grip on the problem.

But it’s not aimed at teens. Of course not:

One big concern, addiction researchers say, is that Juul lacks many characteristics that deter people from smoking in the first place, such as a harsh smell and burnt-tobacco taste. Juul flavors include “Creme Brulee,” “Fruit Medley” and “Mango,” in addition to “Classic Tobacco.” … A Juul device fits easily in a pocket and looks nondescript when plugged into a laptop’s USB drive to recharge or sitting on a desk. Teachers say students gather in bathrooms, library carrels and locker rooms to pass Juuls. The minimal vapor and barely there smell makes it harder to detect than some other e-cigarettes.

….Criticism that it was designed to appeal to kids is “absolutely false,” says Ashley Gould, Juul Labs chief administrative officer. “It’s non-cylindrical because when smokers move away from cigarettes they don’t want to be reminded of cigarettes.” Something that could be plugged directly into a USB port was also convenient, she says….Ms. Gould says the company is trying to find more ways of working with local law enforcement to prevent sales to under-age customers. It is also looking at technologies that could disable the device on school grounds, she says.

Easy come, easy go.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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