Letter: Juuls and Vapes in Story County



Frannie Nielsen

Health enthusiasts are concerned with the alarming rates of young nicotine consumers. Electronic cigarettes are gaining popularity among younger generations and across college campuses. The most common forms of electronic cigarettes are Juuls and other vaporizers. Electronic cigarette use can be detrimental to the user’s health and their environment. Health Promotion Club is making efforts to reduce the use of electronic cigarettes on campus. The use of these devices is prohibited on Iowa State University’s campus and the public domain of Story County.

Electronic cigarette usage is at an all-time high for underage users. E-cigarette use among high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014. Vaporizer products are surpassing traditional tobacco products in popularity. Younger users are drawn to the ease of use and high nicotine levels. The average vape nicotine levels range from 1-3 percent, while the nicotine percentage for a Juul is 5 percent. The nicotine in one Juul pod is equivalent to an entire pack of traditional cigarettes. Although electronic cigarettes are offered as an alternative to conventional tobacco products, e-cigarettes pose a serious health risk for young users.

Young adults are more vulnerable to the negative consequences of nicotine exposure. According to the CDC, nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain. E-cigarettes also contain harmful chemicals that impact behavior like reduced impulse control, deficits in cognition and attention and mood disorders. The aerosols from e-cigarettes are not harmless; the chemicals include nicotine, carbonyl compounds and volatile organic compounds. Flavored vapors also include more chemicals that are not monitored or tested. Ultimately, e-cig users do not know what they are putting into their body, and therefore do not understand the health risks.

Health Promotion Club and the University have been working to reduce the use of vaporizers in Iowa. Iowa State University adopted the Smoke Free Air Act in 2012, which prohibits traditional smoking on the entirety of the campus. In 2016, Health Promotion Club helped pass an ordinance in Story County to ban vaping in public areas. Bars are prevalent spots for vape users but are also considered public spaces. Vaping in bars in Story County is prohibited. Since then, Iowa State University has adopted this ideology by prohibiting all forms of smoking on campus, including e-cigarettes. There is up to a $100 fine for a first offense of smoking on campus, and up to a $200 fine for a second offense. Electronic cigarette use poses serious consequences for college students.

With the use of vaporizers on the rise, Health Promotion Club is working to raise awareness of the harmful effects of nicotine products. College students are using e-cigarettes more now than ever. Most users are not aware of the chemicals they consume, the long-term health effects, or the legalities involved with vaping in Story County.