Popularity of JUULs on campus is high despite ban

By Gillian Dunlop, Assistant News Editor

Despite anti-tobacco campaigns and a ban on campus, many students use JUULs, a small form of an e-cigarette. The tobacco industry heavily markets e-cigarettes as a cessation device, although they have not been approved by the FDA for this purpose, according to a University FAQ page.

E-cigarettes are often believed to be a safer alternative to cigarettes, even though they contain tobacco byproducts that are toxic to humans. The extent of its effects is not yet known.  

Some people, however, believe vapes and e-cigarettes to be a good way for people to wean themselves off of cigarettes. “I live it. I love it,” Scott Shull, owner of Vape Vault, said. “I get to help people (switch from smoking). I see positives come out of my business every day.”

“I would say it’s grown. I wouldn’t say it’s grown substantially around here, but there’s been growth,” said Kirstina Hamilton, director of Lung Health Promotion for the American Lung Association in Illinois.

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In 2016, more than two million U.S. middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, in 2016, 3.2 percent of U.S. adults were e-cigarette users.

Another study in 2015, however, found that after sampling 599 college students enrolled in General Psychology, 29 percent of students reported prior use of e-cigarettes.

“You can’t predict the future,” Shull said. “I believe that there will be more ground met on regulations which any reliable and responsible vape shop will tell you the same thing, that the industry does need to be regulated, but it needs to be fairly regulated.”

Whitney Greger, health education program coordinator at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, said in an email that in July 2015, e-cigarettes became officially banned in all state supported institutions of higher education including their outdoor areas.

“E-cigarettes are also concerning because of their tendency to market toward a younger demographic,” she said. “For example, the FDA banned kid-friendly flavors from being used in conventional cigarettes but flavors like cherry, bubblegum and cotton candy can still be used in the e-cigarette juices which may appeal more to youth.”

In a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it was declared that e-cigarette use among youth and young adults has become a health concern.

“Many think that e-cigarette vape is harmless ‘water vapor,’ but it can contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to both the user and people around them,” Greger said.

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