By Nola Killpack
1,299 people currently have a vaping-related lung illness and 26 have died. To me this sounds like a crisis, an epidemic even, and there is no doubt in my mind who needs to take the blame: Juul. Even though scientists are still figuring out the causes, Juul, which controls 50% of the vaping market, has been at the forefront of the news surrounding the recent vaping related illnesses. E-cigarettes were created as a safer option to traditional cigarettes, meant to help those already addicted to quit. Instead they have led to the creation of a world where 28% of high schoolers vape, introducing high levels of nicotine into their bodies, and becoming four times more likely to smoke cigarettes later on. If that’s not enough, the recent news has shown us that vaping has unprecedented consequences— consequences that scientists still know very little about. This scares me and it’s all the fault of one corporation: Juul.
Even before these illnesses were reported, Juul must have known that vaping is by no means beneficial. Yes, it is a great alternative to traditional cigarettes, and I agree that, for that reason at least, e-cigarettes should remain legal and readily available. However, Juul has chosen money over ethics and through their callous marketing, have increased the numbers of people addicted to nicotine instead of lessening them. I’d like to meet the person who thought that marketing Juuls to so obviously a teen audience was ehtical. Everything from the shape (they can pass as flash drives), flavorings, and the ads are clearly marketed directly towards teenagers. I don’t blame my generation, and I don’t judge my friends who vape, but I am scared for them. People have a right to make informed decisions about what they are putting into their bodies, and Juul is an expert at misinformation. Thanks to a corporation, vaping has become normalized and now something whose consequences are jacking up to be more serious than anyone expected has become part of the daily lives of many high schoolers. This isn’t something to skim over. It needs to be fixed.