Fareen Dhuka is a senior, and this is her fourth year on The Review.
January 9, 2020
Vaping is pervasive throughout social media. From TikTok to Instagram, it is impossible to escape e-cigarette culture, a phenomenon that takes form through comedic videos, memes and even dance trends.
When scrolling through TikTok, many videos feature some type of vaping device, whether it be a Juul or brightly colored puff bars, a disposable form of e-cigarette. TikTok is a platform centered on short dance videos or comedy trends, in which users film themselves performing a new dance or showcasing a certain aspect of their lives in a comedic manner. These seemingly innocent videos often incorporate vaping as a part of the trends.
These trends are dangerous, as they present vaping as normal, commonplace and even cool. One trend features a choreographed dance that starts with a vaping trick called “ghosting.” The other involves users showcasing how many puff bars or Juul pods they have gone through as a coughing track plays in the background. The popular hashtag “juulgang” has over 347 million views, meaning that the majority of TikTok’s 500 million users are viewing videos that in some way showcase vaping products.
“[Social media content] can definitely influence people,” Courtney said. “I feel like it’s more attractive in a way to people, if it’s all over the media.”
On both Instagram and TikTok, teens and adults alike have taken to painting and decorating their vapes. Instagram in particular has many comedic pictures and memes that use Juuling and nicotine addiction as the element of relatable humor.
“If you’re 14 or 15, then you might want to be cool,” Teresa said. “[My little step-sister] watches TikTok and Instagrams and just thinks [vaping is] cool and rebellious.”
Snapchat is another social media platform that has a problematic vaping culture. Because of the rising vaping trend, many teens flash their Juuls on their private stories to appear cool.
“I didn’t even know what a Juul looked like until I saw it on someone’s Snapchat,” Mikayla said.
The online culture surrounding e-cigarettes makes quitting more difficult since users are rewarded with positive messages on vaping. The ways in which these apps showcase nicotine addiction issues minimizes the danger and reality of the problem, and instead presents it as relatable and funny.
Despite all the online positive reinforcement, some, including Courtney, have managed to quit.