Broken Compass: Administration finally takes action on Juuling epidemic

(It’s too late, everyone is already addicted to nicotine).

Everyone knows this all-too-common scenario: you’re sitting in class, working on a test review, and suddenly you get the itch for nic(otine). You raise your hand to ask to go to the bathroom, but once you get there the bathroom is occupied and you can’t hit your Juul.

Bathrooms have slowly been taken over by students “juuling,” a new verb that refers to using a specific brand of vape called a Juul.

Maria Newton
A student mimics using a juul outside the Juuling Lounge, where a temporary sign has been hung up. “I think that even this flash drive looks cool, you know? I can almost feel the nicotine buzz,” the unnamed student said.

“I used to go to the bathroom to hide from teachers when we had a test or were doing an activity I didn’t like. But now I can’t even walk close without feeling as though I’m suffocating on the thick smell of Juuls. It gives me such a bad headache,” senior Juulian Mango said. “Just hit your Juul in class or in the parking lot like everyone else. At least that way it’s dispersed.”

To remedy this growing issue, the administration has come forward with a tentative solution. With the growing success of the new Quiet Zone built around the senior lounge, the school has agreed to pursue creating a “Juuling Lounge:” a safe space for students to use their vapes.

“Back in the day, we used to have smoking lounges; the Peace Garden used to be a cool area where students and teachers alike could get their nicotine fix,” science teacher Toby A. Bacco said. “I’m very excited to redirect the addicted population to these lounges because I’m tired of having to turn people into the administration when I catch them juuling in regular bathrooms. Those are just for going to the bathroom.”

I wish I could stop, but now that I have a space to do it, I think I’ll just end up doing it more. Why is this the solution again?”

— an anonymous student

The Juuling Lounge will be located in girls’ bathroom on the main floor outside of the front office. There, they will be accessible for students entering the building who need a morning hit to start off their day.

“I need to Juul when I wake up, when I’m driving to school and when I get to school,” an anonymous student said. “I wish I could stop, but now that I have a space to do it, I think I’ll just end up doing it more. Why is this the solution again?”

This idea was facilitated by a growing sense of confusion among faculty about juuling and how to stop it. A survey conducted during Common Ground revealed that 60 percent of students who Juul use over three capsules a day, making them just as addictive and dangerous as three packs of cigarettes because of similar nicotine levels.

“We know this is a big problem, but confiscating the devices in class is really difficult and tiring,” Bacco said. “Some other schools are adjusting the rules so there is a larger punishment for being caught with a Juul, but it’s not our job to fight a student’s drug addiction for them. We’re only teachers and other trusted adults.”

Recently, Juul has announced that they are going to stop selling flavored capsules in physical stores in an effort to prevent underage people from using their products. Many students are outraged about it, but others encouraged the change.

“I’m tired of walking into bathrooms and smelling the strong scent of mint and vanilla pods. I love to Juul as much as the next student, but at least I use classic flavors like tobacco and menthol. With the crackdown on flavored pods and this new Juuling Lounge, maybe I’ll finally get a break from the headache-inducing scents,” freshman Nico Tine said.

The transformation of the bathroom will cost the school around $200, not including upkeep. Features added include a pod-disposal area, extra outlets for charging and a fan to disperse the vapor.

“We fundraised money by up-charging our peers for pods by a dollar,” head of the Juuling Lounge committee Harry Podder said. “Within a week we had raised more than enough money to fund all the stuff we want, plus we bought a couch off eBay.”

There is still some controversy about what to do with the corresponding boys’ bathroom in the main foyer. In a survey conducted, students suggested turning it into the school’s only gender-neutral restroom, but concerned parents immediately shut that idea down.

“That’s just crazy talk,” the mom of a junior said.

The Juuling Lounge will be open and ready for use next week.

“We’re being proactive about a prevalent issue at our school; it is important to combat this epidemic whatever way we can,” an anonymous administrator said.