You walk into a dimly lit room. There are a hundred young college students bouncing around, screaming and yelling loudly along to the latest Drake/Future song. There is a thin veil of dust surrounding you. A mixture of various odors waft through the air; a twinge of weed, and a vague effervescence of freshly spilled beer. You look around you, a little caught off guard, but completely excited. You smile as the sheer volume of the music abuses your ears, nothing to be thought nor to be cared about in this very moment but the desire to completely immerse yourself into the mold beside you. The floor trembles and shakes as you jump with everyone to the melodic grumble of a low bass from the speakers.
Minutes go by and you are now submerged in a sea of perspiring and ecstatic people. You decide to take a break and to catch some fresh air. You step outside, and a draft of coolness washes over. The air thinner and fresher than before, you reach for cigarettes in your front pocket. As you proceed to slide one out, you notice a group next to you on the porch, having a festive and exuberant conversation. They notice you with the cigarette in your mouth, prepared to light it. You smile and prepare to offer them one, but quickly one of them comes over and says, “Hey, you wanna hit this instead? Helped me quit smoking.” You look at what they hand to you and realize you have seen it before. There were numerous times and numerous occasions, but you had never bothered asking what it was.
“It’s a Juul. It’s like a vape but way nicer.” They drunkenly laugh as your perplexed expression turns into curiosity. Nevertheless, you gratuitously accept their invitation, taking the Juul in hand and drawing out a long but satisfying hit.
A crackling sound of nicotine juice in the Pod can be audible, even in passing of the loud music from inside. You cough a few times, as you did not expect it to hit so hard. A pleasant flush of nicotine swims your lungs to your veins, and the tension held in your body slowly dissipated with the exhale.
There was always an expectation of vapes to be weak, but it was quickly nullified by this one device. Striking your throat and lungs with a surprising punch, it served as a gentle reminder of the overwhelming rush from those first few cigarettes. But you liked it, and it paired beautifully well with the lubricated state you were already in.
Days past, and the next thing you know, instead of reaching for a pack of cigarettes, you reach for your Juul instead. Tucked safely away next to your wallet, it no longer carried the bulkiness of a crumpled pack of cigarettes that once nested between a sweaty thigh and jeans.
What is typically regarded as an awkward and heavy piece of coagulated metal, the average vape modulated an air of clumsy pretentiousness. Serving marginally as a vessel of nicotine, the option to use one without it in the juice itself was where the deleterious commentary of hipster radicalism began. It had garnered itself not only a social stigma outside of its own culture but also presented critics abundant opportunities to gesticulate on. The massive clouds the typical vape would produce are hardly ignored, drawing both unwanted and wanted attention for the vaping community.
The Juul however, possesses none of these disadvantages and presents itself without the option of nicotine-less usage. There is no container to be refilled like most other vapes, but only a simple replacement mechanism. The Pod, a tiny cartridge coming in a pack of four, is easily disposable. The act of replacing a Pod with a fresh one is as mindless as replacing batteries in a TV remote.
The targeted demographic of alternative smokers alone warrants a psychological discussion. Although the majority of the college demographic no longer deem cigarettes as a symbol of badassery and virtuous rebellion any more than stupidity; the Juul encompasses that personification without its negative connotations. This is not to say that the Juul does not present possible health effects, but the packaging, cleanliness, lack of any obvious offensive sensory signals of stale smoke or bad breath, and the absence of extensive public research into its effects offer the Juul as the favorable choice for college-aged people nonetheless.
The sleek design and smooth feel of the matte black aluminum shell unabashedly puts other vapes to shame in the same way the iPhone transformed the market for cellphones. The value of design and efficiency hold true in the testament of market demand as the sexiness and lightweight convenience of the Juul turn the eye of many. This, along with the price tag of a hefty fifty dollars for the device alone, and twenty dollars for each pack of Pods create an illusion of perceived exclusivity, further distancing the Juul from the cigarette. For those willing to passively decipher status amongst peers with fiscal signaling, this innocuous invention was the right idea. This is especially true in a college campus, as the qualities of convenience and portability can justify its costs.
In comparison, serving once as a stylish and sophisticated marker in the 60’s, the cigarette began marching forward in a history of rebellious, crass and even demonized connotations in later generations. This is due in large to the shift in public opinion caused by an onslaught of various associated health consequences that had emerged due to doctors’ recommendations. The Juul however, has not earned itself such an unflattering reputation, as the numerous studies linking ingredients used in vape juices possible carcinogenic effects have yet to garner such a public association. Despite the research- the marketability, lack of awareness or even blatant disregard seemingly supersede the Juul’s potential detriments to consumers, similarly to how cigarettes once did.
For those searching for the comfort of nicotine, the Juul not only encompasses the best of its qualities with a subtle guise of exclusivity, convenience, but also a blanket of reassurance.. that is until the next trend comes along.
Featured Image via Wikipedia