A hazy mango-scented smoke fills the library on a Tuesday evening. The same smell lingers at an off-campus party on Saturday night.
The eerily familiar scent follows students because JUULs are one of the few items commonly found in both Linderman Library and off-campus parties
A JUUL, which resembles the shape of a flat USB drive, is a vapor-system that can be filled with nicotine pods, with flavors such as mango, mint or cucumber. JUUL users must be 21 to purchase the smoking device.
According to the JUUL Labs website, the founders’ goal was to create an alternative experience to cigarettes. The website reads that each “JUUL uses a temperature regulation system to heat nicotine-based liquid to an ideal level and is designed to avoid burning.”
Each JUUL pod contains 0.7 ML with 5 percent nicotine, which is equal to about 200 puffs, or one pack of cigarettes.
This new trend was started by co-founders James Monsees and Adam Bowen, who were eager to change the cigarette system after little changes were made for over 100 years.
The JUUL easily fits inside pant or coat pockets, making it easy to transport to various locations.
“It isn’t just something that people do at parties — people bring JUULs into to academic buildings to use during class or to use while studying at both libraries on campus,” said Marissa Bruno, ’20, a peer health adviser.
Ozzy Breiner, the director of Residential Services, said JUULs are forbidden in Lehigh facilities and students can be fined $300 if caught with one, or any smoking-related product.
“(JUULs) have caused the same issues with setting off smoke detection and we have had as many problems with them as we have had with regular cigarettes, if not more,” he said.
Some Lehigh students have started to question the common use of the device among their peers.
Sophia Closter, ’21, a member of Student Senate, said she thinks students are drawn to JUULs because the design is sleek and aesthetically appealing. She said students will continue using them despite Lehigh policy.
“The school doesn’t have a right to take action until there is evidence that these will harm people,” Closter said. “Until then, nothing will happen to stop the usage. We can strongly encourage people to stop, but there’s nothing forcing or preventing people from using them for now.”
Closter said she thinks JUULs spark curiosity because it seems like all students are trying the electronic smoking device.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, “Youth are more likely than adults to use e-cigarettes. In 2016, more than two million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.”
Bailey Lieberman, ’21, said he is trying to use his JUUL less frequently but does not view JUULing any differently after reading social media posts highlighting the negative health impacts.
“It is supposed to be an alternative to smoking, not its own activity,” Lieberman said. “Don’t start if you don’t smoke already. If you’re not trying to wean your way off of cigarettes, it’s definitely not worth becoming addicted to.”
Breiner said JUULs have become less prominent on campus since residential services made clear the smoking devices were not permitted.
“We have not seen as much of an issue as we have had in the past,” he said. “E-cigarettes initially were a fairly big thing, that I think has died down a bit.”
Bruno said when a new method of smoking or vaping comes out, there are no completed studies or a deep understanding of how it will affect the human body in the long run.
“As of right now, people are experiencing severe nicotine addiction and continue to go through as much as one pod a day,” Bruno said. “Although people believe it to be safe — because it is ‘just vapor’ — we don’t necessarily know how consistent JUULing will affect someone’s health as they age.”
Bruno said people who JUUL don’t necessarily understand the implications of what they’re doing to their bodies and could become dependent on nicotine. Bruno is concerned “JUULing culture” will cause serious health implications for people in the future.
“We’re going to look back and wonder how we were so stupid,” Closter said. “In 20 years, we’re going to say the same exact thing about ‘JUULing’ that our parents say about cigarettes, but it’s going to be too late, it’s ‘too cool’ now.”