Vape user’s death reignites controversy

Jess Barnett, News Editor

The recent death of a vape pen user has sparked conversation surrounding JUUL use in the United States.

24-year-old William Brown died from his vape pen exploding in his mouth, according to The Washington Post, though it has not been said that the device he was using was a JUUL. His vape exploded, shooting shards of metal into his face and neck. The Washington Post reported that the cause of death was from the pieces of the vaporizer pen cutting into his carotid artery located in his neck which lead to a stroke. It is not known which type of vape Brown used.

Brown was just one of the many victims of an exploding vape pen. In a study published in Tobacco Control, it was found that there were more than 2,000 vape pen explosions and burn injuries in the United States from 2015 to 2017.

Since the JUUL device came out there has been an “80% increase use in high schoolers and 50% increase among middle schoolers,” comments Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN.

JUUL raised the normal levels of nicotine when they came into the e-cig market. E-cigs previously only contained 1%-3% of nicotine until 2015 when JUUL came out with a nicotine concentration of 5%, according to a recent study published in the BMJ Tobacco Control. The popularity of the JUUL pushed its competitors to also make their products have a high nicotine content. Vape companies have now increased their products nicotine levels in the range of 5% and 7%. According to CNN, a single pod with 5% nicotine is the same amount that is one pack of cigarettes. JUULs have been proven to be just as addictive as cigarettes.JUUL additionally created ‘nicotine salt’ which raised its own nicotine content. Nicotine salt is made by combining nicotine in its natural form with an organic acid. Doing this supposedly hides the taste of natural nicotine. Masking the taste of nicotine allows there to be higher levels of it, and “as a consequence of that, nicotine gets delivered to the brain very rapidly,” says Dr. Frank T. Leone, director of the Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program at Penn Medicine. Having a high concentration of nicotine makes it even more addictive and can lead to withdrawl.Nicotine withdrawl can result in nervousness, anxiety, loss of focus, nausea, irritability, and shakiness or increased anger,” according to research conducted by Nebraska Medicine.