For the millennial generation, the tobacco-filled cigarette is a has-been.
But many of them keep something in their pocket that still feeds the addiction to nicotine.
It’s called the Juul, and it’s the hottest product on the e-cigarette market. The Juul is a popular e-cigarette brand that was originally created as a healthy alternative to smoking.
The number of millennial chain smokers is profoundly lower than previous generations, but the number of those using e-cigarettes has risen quickly.
Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that since 1976 the percentage of high school seniors who reported smoking cigarettes daily went from 28.8 percent down to 5.5 percent in 2015.
In just four years, from 2011 to 2015, the percentage of high school seniors who had ever used an e-cigarette increased from 4.7 to 16 percent.
The Juul is a small palm-size device, easily mistaken for a USB drive and can be purchased online or at local gas stations and smoke shops.
The device is battery-powered and delivers nicotine to its users by converting liquid into vaper, all without the tobacco found in cigarettes.
Many shops sell out of the Juul so fast, they can barely keep them on their shelves.
“When we have the Juuls in they are gone instantly. Juuls, they never stay in stock,” says Andrew Dellaire, an employee at Headwest Smoke Shop in Tucson.
According to the Juul website, one Juul pod or cartridge refill, is equivalent to the same amount of nicotine found in one pack of cigarettes.
Some Juul users claim to go through an entire pod in just one or two days.
A Business Insider article from 2017 stated that Juul produces “some 20 million pods per month, but it has struggled to keep up with demand.”
The Juul website also states that its goal is for the Juul device to eventually make the act of cigarette smoking obsolete.
For many Juul users, the device did just that.
“It absolutely helped me quit smoking, I haven’t smoked a cigarette in over a year,” says Michael Strauser, owner of Pure Mettle Hair Salon.
Strauser, age 42, had been addicted to cigarettes since age 15 until he switched to smoking a Juul.
As a small business owner, the last thing Strauser wanted was to smell like a cigarette when he was cutting a client’s hair or meeting someone for the first time.
“I needed something that I could just put in my pocket and hit without it being this big huge thing,” says Strauser.
Although Strauser is cigarette-free, he still finds himself addicted to using his Juul.
“You know it’s having it in your hand or knowing it’s in your pocket no matter what’s going on with your day,” he says. “Like if I’m going to have a difficult client or things aren’t going as planned or something is not on schedule. It’s like you just feel your pocket and say, ‘Oh, my Juul is there — everything’s cool!’ It’s kind of crazy.”
Many people share the same success story of quitting cigarettes because of the Juul.
While health experts and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention agree that it can help smokers quit, there is not yet research to determine the long-term health effects associated with Juuls and other e-cigarettes.
“The Food and Drug Administration of the United States is trying to actively determine what policies they should set up in terms of safety of these products,” says Dr. Clark Lantz, investigator for University of Arizona Center for Toxicology.
“High school kids and young adults are using it and thinking with the opinion that it’s not as much of an issue as regular cigarettes,” says Lantz. “When in fact … it could be even more harmful and it’s still not breaking down your dependency on nicotine.”