By Jenna Lo
*pseudonym used to protect the identity of a minor utilizing a nicotine product
High school student Grayson Howard* didn’t expect back in November of 2017 he’d be part of the 20.8% of high school students addicted to e-cigarettes according to the American Cancer Society.
“I started juuling because I was hanging around a group of friends who all did it. I just wanted to see what all the rage was about,” said Howard. “Looking back now I highly regret it.”
One in five high school kids and one in 20 middle school kids currently use e-cigarettes, as reported by the CDC. Additionally, according to the American Cancer Society there was a 78% increase of high school students using e-cigarettes between 2017 and 2018. This increase is often due to students feeling pressured by their friends to be cool or to fit in while being completely unaware of the dangers of e-cigarette usage.
“I didn’t know anything about juuling when I started,” said Howard. “I just thought it looked cool.”
Out of a group of high schoolers who admitted they had taken a hit of an e-cigarette at least once, they all disclosed they were with a group of friends the first time they took a hit. They either wanted to fit in, tried it because it looked cool, or were curious. No matter the reason, however, none of the high schoolers initially knew what was in the e-cigarette or the potential risks.
“I’m a big follower. Whenever I see all my friends doing something I also have to try it. I knew it had nicotine in it, but they hadn’t done as many studies back then. I really didn’t know what I was doing,” said one of the high schoolers.
While most of this group of high schoolers stopped juuling after their first hit, Howard continued to Juul. He eventually became addicted, which then cost him over $500 worth of e-cigarettes and affected his daily life.
“It would hinder my mood if I went long periods of time without it, and I would be cranky,” said Howard. “I highly regret it and discourage anyone from starting because honestly, the buzz isn’t worth it and it’s not worth affecting your day.”
As of right now, Howard is in the process of trying to quit juuling. However, officially quitting has proven to be more difficult than he ever could have imagined when picking up a Juul for the first time back in December 2017.
“I’ve tried to quit a couple of times. I end up being fine for a day or two, but then the withdrawals kick in, and I cave again,” Howard said. “I’ve spent too much money on it, and it has consumed too much of my life. It really sucks that I was naïve and got addicted to such a stupid thing.”