Students can be seen throughout campus with clouds of smoke billowing from their faces. But instead of it smelling like smoke, it smells like mango. Rather than smoking a cigarette, students are “hitting” their small, black JUULs.
This scenario is growing more prevalent on campus, and five LSU students have teamed up to end JUULs on campus.
“Not CUUL LSU” is an e-cigarette prevention and awareness campaign run by mass communication seniors Emilie Bowen, Christina Georgacopoulos, Jack Griffin, Patrick Quinn and Justin Steward aiming to educate and bring awareness to growing JUUL use on campus.
The campaign began in January as a project for the group’s senior capstone class, taught by Manship School of Mass Communication professor Robert Mann. Since then, the group has raised awareness in Free Speech Plaza, received endorsement from incoming LSU Student Government president William Jewell and began a smoking advisory board for students and faculty.
“If you walk around on campus, you see kids JUULing all the time,” Georgacopoulos said. “We wanted to focus specifically on the JUUL because it is the most popular e-cigarette and has a lot of brand identity.”
The campaign mainly runs through its Twitter account, @notCUUL_LSU, which posts and shares both funny and informational content regarding JUULs and its dangers in hopes of being both informative and relatable.
“Might start smoking cigs so I can quit the JUUL,” said one tweet retweeted by the group.
“We kind of joked about it in the beginning,” Georgacopoulos said. “We’re not coming for people vaping, but it really reflects back to when cigarettes were first popular. The issue is very legitimate and very serious, but the approach we take with our social media is comedic and uses the language of kids.”
The campaign was also started in response to a lack of enforcement of anti-smoking policies on campus, with about 26 percent of students reporting using an e-cigarette on campus and about 93 percent reporting seeing another student use an e-cigarette on campus according to the 2018 campus-wide smoking survey.
The campaign grew in popularity after posting a video of them interviewing students in Free Speech Plaza which has almost 7,000 view,s on Twitter. In the video, Griffin and Quinn hold a sign saying, “Tell us about your JUUL” and have students share their stories about why and how they JUUL.
The video concludes with every JUUL user saying they did not smoke cigarettes before getting their JUUL.
“Let this serve as my official denouncement of JUUL on campus #notCUUL,” Jewell tweeted.
Georgacopoulos also serves as an SG student senator and unanimously passed a bill last week to create a smoking advisory board, which will consist of student senate, faculty senate and staff senate members. The board will discuss smoking trends and policies on campus.
However, some University students still have their criticisms.
“In the past, just as many college students were smoking cigarettes,” said mass communication junior Claire Hadlock. “Now it’s a JUUL, and it’s a buzz word. I think that it is less than a problem than underage drinking. The focus needs to be on alcohol rather than JUULs.”
Communication studies junior Vanessa Sanders said the campaign as a whole is unnecessary. She said that juuling is more of an issue among high school students than college students, and that the problem is something the nation should worry about, not LSU specifically.
“Almost everyone in college is 18 or older,” Sanders said. “It’s their decision at that point.”
Criticisms also come from JUUL Labs Inc.’s ongoing movement to prevent youth from using JUULs. The company has pledged $30 million toward independent research, education and community engagement. It has also pulled cucumber, creme, fruit medley and mango cucumber, creme, fruit medley and mango flavored pods from retailers.
“JUUL has been outstandingly successful in the adult market,” said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller in a news release. “They don’t need sales to adolescents to succeed. It is a cause for concern, but it has not reached panic or epidemic stages.”
Georgacopoulos responded that $30 million is “pocket change” for JUUL Labs, considering that tobacco company Altria bought a 35 percent stake in JUUL Labs for $12.8 billion. She said the company should quadruple their current pledge amount.
For the future, “Not CUUL LSU” is planning a “JUUL pods for AirPods” raffle, in which students may turn in their JUUL in exchange for a raffle entry to win AirPods.
“When young people and students hear enforcement and anti-smoking, they just think of authority and they think of the man telling them what to do,” Georgacopoulos said. “We’re not coming after people — we’re just trying to change the social environment around e-cigarettes.”