'I go crazy if I don't have it': American teens are going wild over an addictive e-cigarette developed by Stanford graduates

Pax LabsJuul is infiltrating American high schools.
  • Juul, the best-selling e-cigarette on the market, is rampant in American high schools.
  • Teens are bragging about “juuling” in front of teachers and in school bathrooms.
  • Some schools are locking up bathrooms or removing the doors of bathroom stalls to try and control the issue.
  • “At first it was just fun and it was something that you could do anywhere,” one 15-year-old said. “Now, I go crazy if I don’t have it. I don’t even feel a buzz anymore.”
  • The nicotine content of a Juul pod is 0.7mL per pod, which is equivalent to about one pack of cigarettes.

The best-selling e-cigarette on the market is rapidly infiltrating American high schools.

The nicotine vaporizer, called Juul, is popular among students because it’s easy to hide. The device is sleek and small with “flavour” pods that look identical to flash drives, enabling students to discreetly fire it up during class and in school hallways.

The pods contain a cocktail of chemicals, including a potent dose of nicotine, that’s designed to mimic the feeling of smoking a cigarette. They come in enticing flavours like crème brûlée, cool cucumber, and mango. And the device can easily be charged using a laptop’s USB port.

JuulInstagram/@juul.buzzTeens are posting videos of themselves ‘juuling’ in front of teachers.

While it was launched in 2015, the Juul only recently began spreading like wildfire across school campuses. It’s now the best-selling e-cigarette on the market, with 32% of the market share of the total e-cigarette category, according to Nielsen data.

“All my friends in college have one,” Mil Schooley, an 18-year-old student in Denver, told NPR. “It just blew up over the summer.”

High school senior Jack Waxman said the bathrooms at his school in Westchester, New York, are overrun with Juul smokers.

“The bathroom has become a very, very scary place for kids because kids are using these products and teachers are unaware,” Waxman said.

One Connecticut high school has locked up all but one set of bathrooms to try and control the issue. A suburban DC high school is attacking the problem by removing the doors of its bathroom stalls.

A Juul “starter” kit costs between $US35 and $US50, and flavour pods cost $US16 for a pack of four. Juul advertises the device – which was developed by two Stanford graduates – as “the satisfying alternative to cigarettes” on its website. The company, called Juul Labs, also says it’s “actively combating underage use of nicotine products.”

“Our goal is to further reduce the number of minors who possess or use tobacco products, including vapour products, and to find ways to keep young people from ever trying these products,” the company said in a statement. “We approach this with a combination of education, enforcement, technology and partnership with others who are focused on this issue, including lawmakers, educators and our business partners.”

Meanwhile, teens have been bragging on social media about “juuling” at school and posting videos of themselves firing up the devices in classrooms.

“Me and Kaitlyn stay behind to hit the juul before leaving class and the art teacher waits to lock door behind us and peeks in mid-juul exhale and goes ‘woah! what are we vapin’ in here?!’… and all I could respond with was ‘Heck yeah dude!'” @nicmazz tweeted on March 1.

“When you teacher catches you rippin your juul in class and asks if you’re ‘vaping a juul’ LMAO” @KrisTelhami tweeted on February 20.

Many high schools are sending out alerts about the new trend to parents.

An October 31 email to parents in Newton, Massachusetts, showed an evidence photo with the caption: “Here is a Juul device disguised as a Sharpie Pen,” the Boston Globe reported.

Some users say it’s highly addictive. The nicotine content of a Juul pod is is 0.7mL per pod, which is equivalent to about one pack of cigarettes, or 200 puffs, according to BuzzFeed News.

“At first it was just fun and it was something that you could do anywhere,” one 15-year-old told the student newspaper at Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo, Michigan. “It’s so easy. Then it just became something I was doing nonstop, but I still felt a buzz. Now, I go crazy if I don’t have it. I don’t even feel a buzz anymore.”

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