In only three years, popular e-cigarette producer Juul has taken over America. Sales increased by more than 600 percent during one of those years — from more than two million devices sold in 2016 to more than 16 million devices sold in 2017. As of November 2018, Juul accounted for more than 76 percent of the multi-million dollar American e-cigarette market.
But while Juuling (the brand has inevitably become a verb) quickly became all the rage, concerned parents also quickly became full of rage, since Juul cajoled their precious teenage children into smoking their dangerous (it’s still smoking, kids!) devices. One recently-published government survey found that 1.3 million more teens vaped in 2018 than the year prior, prompting Surgeon General Jerome Adams to send out a public advisory against Juuling, “emphasizing the importance of protecting our children from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and associated health risks.”
As a non-smoker, I watched, bemused, as the Juul effortlessly infiltrated our office. The vast majority of my coworkers currently own a Juul, and clouds of scented vapor have become the backdrop for our morning meetings. Before Juuling, some of these colleagues were already cigarette smokers, but others have allowed the Juul to pop their nicotine cherry.
But as bleak as our nicotine-filled future may seem, more and more people are realizing that Juuling comes with a cost, too, and subsequently, people are already beginning to battle their Juul addictions. In this week’s hottest celebrity news, model Bella Hadid announced that she gave up Juuling for the New Year. Another story making the rounds this week chronicles the excessive Juuling habits that prompted a North Carolina teenager to undergo 40 days of nicotine rehabilitation therapy. The 15-year-old had resorted to selling his clothes to help pay for his $150-a-week vaping habit, before a Juul-induced seizure convinced him to get help.
Back in our own Juul-infested office, meanwhile, quitters are also beginning to emerge. My editor Nick Leftley, for example, who tells me that he recently decided to quit (although his story is considerably less dramatic):
“Having quit cigarettes at 20, I didn’t touch one for about 15 years, at which point I started having the odd drag here and there when drinking. That’s all I really wanted, a couple of drags — that was plenty. So when the Juul came along and it was suddenly possible to carry this little thing everywhere that allowed me to just have a couple drags, I was in love.
“Then, after a couple weeks, I realized I was having ‘a couple drags’ a lot more than just when I was drinking. I was hitting it all throughout the workday; in my apartment watching TV; in bed at night; first thing in the morning before getting in the car. I was, for no good reason, slowly trying to addict myself to the thing. Which seemed extraordinarily dumb, even for me. So I just stopped carrying it around with me and that was pretty much that.”
This four-month-old Reddit thread on r/Juul recounts a strikingly similar story: The original poster explains that they smoked the occasional cigarette while drinking — that is, until they started Juuling, which quickly became a daily activity. “I’m just kinda tired of spending so much money on it, and I’m just ready to stop,” the poster writes [sic]. The comments are filled with recovering Juulers showing their support or current Juulers admitting that they too hope to quit.
Now, none of this means that Juul is losing steam (or rather, vapor) — in fact, if the Juul is anything like the cigarette, it will continue to spread throughout America, and eventually, the entire world. But the fact that Juulers are recognizing that their habit is unhealthy and making an effort to quit only a few years after Juuls hit the market is astounding. People didn’t even consider quitting tobacco until the 1950s, when five large studies found a link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, and by that time, humans had been smoking and chewing tobacco for at least 2,000 years.
Nowadays, according to a 2015 study, about 55 percent of all adult smokers in the U.S. stopped smoking for more than one day that same year because they wanted to quit, and since 2002, the number of former smokers has been greater than the number of current smokers.
If you want to quit Juuling, though, the above-mentioned Redditor warns that it can be difficult. “I gave my Juul to my neighbor to hold onto yesterday, and thus, haven’t had any nicotine since then,” they write [sic]. “Last night was pretty rough — I was just sitting there watching football constantly tapping my leg and craving my Juul. I went to sleep without any problems last night, but I woke up this morning reaching for my Juul, as I always do, only to remember that I no longer have it. Today, so far, I feel okay — just kinda craving it with maybe a mild headache.”
But for your own sake — and especially for the sake of your lungs — saying goodbye to your precious Juul is definitely worth it. Unless you really can’t, in which case, rest easy knowing that humans might destroy the world before you develop lung cancer anyway. Woo!