Following a recent outbreak of vaping-related illnesses, increasing numbers of people are throwing their Juuls out of windows, submerging them in water, or dramatically binning them and posting it online.
While the dangers of smoking have been known for decades, there is little research into the long-term effects of vaping, though health experts believe e-cigs are responsible for a recent spike in US lung illnesses, with 450 new cases – including six deaths – tied to vaping.
In a tweet accompanying a viral video of himself throwing his Juul into a puddle, Tony Graves wrote: “Someone I know is having surgery tomorrow bc he was coughing up blood & got air bubbles in his lungs. Throw That Shit Away.”
The surge of vapers attempting to quit follows a spate of hospitalisations across America, with teenagers most affected. According to a 2016 survey, those aged 18 to 24 are the most regular users of e-cigs, with many taking up vaping despite never having smoked regular cigarettes.
18-year-old Simah Herman went viral in August for an Instagram post about the detrimental effects of vaping after she had to be put into a medically induced coma. “Vaping is advertised as ‘a healthier alternative to smoking’,” she wrote, “which is false. I’m sharing my story so you don’t have to have your own.”
Symptoms of the current vaping-associated lung illnesses include severe pneumonia, shortness of breath, coughing, fever, fatigue, and respiratory failure. One TikTok user – who is seemingly a doctor – warned against vaping by posting a video showing an x-ray of the mysterious lung illness.
Another TikTok user shared his experience on the platform, posting a video with the caption: “Things I did this summer: Juul’d too hard I collapsed a lung and got this cool tank.” The video is soundtracked to La Roux’s “Bulletproof”, which sees her sing “been there, done that, messed around”.
As with most things in 2019, if you’re going to get a message through to people, the best way to do it is through memes – particularly if you’re targeting teens – so experts should take a leaf out of users’ books and get their vaping warnings out on Twitter ASAP.