Timothy Rah / Robinson Secondary School (12th)
An epidemic is crawling its way into high schools across the nation. It operates under the noses of school staff and hooks students to it. This epidemic is not a disease, however, and it is not a pathogen; this epidemic is the Juul.
For decades, cigarettes have been characterized by cancer and been a controversial topic especially in the setting of a school environment. Many products have claimed to be an alternative to cigarettes, and among these products are E-Cigarettes. E-cigarettes are seen as “healthier” alternatives to regular cigarettes and flaunt the absence of tobacco in its products. They come in many shapes but usually resemble a pipe or pen. Additionally, they are reusable because E-cigarette solution is refillable and comes in many flavors, attracting teenagers. This makes it even more attractive to younger people, prompting them to “try it out.”
All this leads to the company Juul, which has stood out amongst E-Cigarettes due to their discreet, slick design, which resembles that of a USB stick. This coupled with the fact that it is “healthier” than regular cigarettes has prompted its use by many teenagers, taking over hangouts, school bathrooms, and even classrooms. As for its effects, more research is needed to determine the long term effects of Juuls due to its relatively recent inception. However, there is concern over the addictive aspect of Juuls and the presence of nicotine. Though all e-cigarettes contain nicotine, Juuls contain 5% nicotine, which is double that in competing E-Cigarette brands. Thus, the notion that Juuls are “healthier” than regular cigarettes is misleading, prompting the question, “is it safe?” Though E-Cigarettes do not contain tobacco and has not been identified as a carcinogen, studies have shown that smoking at a young age is able to reduce activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for one’s cognitive behavior and decision making. Because the prefrontal cortex’s activity is hampered, there is an increase in sensitivity to other drugs and greater impulsivity. Juuls rewires the brain, making one more susceptible to addiction and other drugs, especially to the adolescent brain.
Ultimately, the bottom line is that Juuls should be avoided. However, peer pressure and the urge to “just try it once” can serve to be the extra push one needs to start Juuling. There is one magic word that is able to prevent a fall to Juuling: “no”. An epidemic is spreading. It is not a disease nor a pathogen, and it may come for you next.
<Timothy Rah / Robinson Secondary School (12th)