January 23, 2018

JEONG | The Juul Manifesto

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A spectre is haunting Cornell — the spectre of the Juul. It has seized every Collegetown frat party, every hidden corner of the Olin stacks, and every North Campus dorm. With each additional “Do u have pods?” text sent on this campus, the grasp of the Juul tightens around the lungs of Cornellians everyday.

However, an existential threat of the Juul looms over New York State.

Two months ago, Governor Cuomo signed a bill banning the use of e-cigarettes in public indoor spaces — officially putting him on every teenager’s shit list, right next to the mayor from Footloose and the principal from The Breakfast Club. So I ask every single one of you that I’ve seen not-so-secretly puffing the Juul in the library — lend me your ears and your mango-flavored hearts.

Much to the delight of econ professors across the country who need real life examples of taxing negative externalities, cigarette consumption has dwindled throughout the decades due to government anti-smoking campaigns and taxation. Our generation has instead found our daily nicotine buzz in the form of the vape.

There is (rightfully) a negative societal perception of vaping.  We can look at pictures of James Dean or Marlon Brando smoking a cigarette while leaning against a Corvette and admire how objectively cool they were, even sixty years later. Conversely, I doubt our great-grandchildren will share such feelings when they see TMZ video clips of Matt Damon or Brad Pitt taking fat rips from their $8 e-cigs as they are leaving the gym.

But all this changed with the introduction of the Juul in June of 2015. And $110 million in funding later, nicotine is back.

Every generation has a unique destructive habit that they can indulge in and then warn their children against decades later. For the baby boomers, it was tobacco and copious amounts of booze. The Jimi Hendrix-listening, peace-and-love generation of the 70’s had a propensity for the devil’s lettuce and LSD that helped pave the path for Seth Rogen and James Franco’s commercial success.

We, the millennials, have the Juul. We smoke it because dubious internet “scientists” tell us it is supposedly healthier than cigarettes, and because we can furtively blow the vapor down our sweatshirts in the back of lecture halls.

We are the generation of kale chips, SoulCycle, farmer markets and whatever acai bowls are. From what I hear from my much hipper acquaintances, we as an age cohort have even turned against Jamba Juice and Odwalla because “the smoothies have too much sugar and none of the nutritional value of real fruit.” But let’s not forget: we are also the generation that eats Tide pods for internet approval and walks miles to catch imaginary Pokemon on our phones. At its core, the Juul represents our tech-savvy ingenuity when it comes to making bad decisions.

In 20 or 30 years, we may look back to 2018 and cringe at the Instagram photos of you and your buddy dressed as matching Juuls for Halloween. But let’s not forget this time of youthful ignorance and how incredible it was to own a e-cigarette in 2018. Juulers of the world, unite.

Jason Jeong is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]Jeongism appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.