Dear Congress, Food and Drug Administration, and President Donald Trump:
For several years, I have been the proud owner of a Juul. A former cigarette aficionado during my freshman year, at first I never got into the vaping scene for a variety of reasons.
One reason was the large size and unwieldiness of the average vaping device. Another was the initial cost and annoying upkeep of these devices, which required you to manually refill the tank fairly often. Finally, vaping from laptop sized devices was seen as uncool and I was quite susceptible to peer pressure in those days.
My sophomore year, fall 2017, I noticed that a fair few of my former smoker buddies had switched to devices that were both ridiculed and praised by a variety of people. At first, I jokingly called these devices “USB drives” and refused to go near them. Later, I would occasionally ask a friend for a puff when I had no cigarettes, or when I was indoors. As such things go, I caved and bought a Juul one day and have owned one since.
Since that day, I have owned over 30 Juuls (they’re very easy to lose, don’t blame me), and bought hundreds of pods. My first starter pack cost $60, but they’ve gone down since then to about $14 the last time I needed a new Juul.
Throughout this time, the federal government has had an ongoing feud with my favorite nicotine-delivering brand. First banning advertisements, then some of my favorite flavors (I’ll always miss you, crème brûlée), and eventually all but tobacco and menthol. While this battle of the buzz is intended to protect those who should not be using Juul products, it has inevitably harmed the legitimate consumers of a product intended to prevent tobacco use.
As I sit here typing, occasionally puffing a menthol-flavored Juul, I’m thinking that this is government gone too far. As a consumer, I should have the ability to use the flavors that I like best. Just because kids are dumb enough to start vaping at ages that our generation wouldn’t have dreamed of does not mean that we should suffer for their decisions.
Banning the flavors will not mean more people quit using nicotine; it just means that they won’t enjoy it as much or will go back to cigarettes. Changing the smoking age won’t stop people under 21 from smoking. It just means a bunch of 18 to 20-year-olds want me to go to the gas station with them for some reason.
Punish those who break the law (I’m looking at you, teenagers), not the innocent consumer. I really miss mint pods and crème brûlée.