Opinion: Dickinson’s State of Dependency

Although  Dickinson no longer has smoking lounges for students and faculty, nicotine is still prevalent on our campus today. Nicotine abuse just looks different in 2022. 

The Juul took the world of student addicts by storm back in 2015, creating a discreet way of feeding the need. It is a petite, thin, black e-cigarette whose smell could be blamed on anything from gum to perfume,depending on if you had the mango or cool mint flavor. You could take it with you anywhere which is convenient for dependent college students. In the last two years, however, you’d rarely see someone whip out a Juul at a townhouse party. 

This decline in juul use is partly because of the federal ban implemented in June 2022, but also because of the rapid production of other kinds of e-cigarettes. A sophomore student said, “I’ve seen a huge uptick in consumption of… the Elf Bar vapes. I know several people off the top of my head who likely own one at the present moment, whereas no one I knew last year used that specific product.” This could have been the replacement product. Juuls had “pods” you could buy in packs, whereas you charge Elf Bars when it “dies.” The rechargeability might be the appeal for broke college students, due to its cost efficiency. 

Delightfully, Elf Bars have“been rumored to cause pneumonia.” Flairs and Hydes are additional disposable devices you commonly see on campus and at parties. Students noted that people favor the devices “that have fruity or sweet flavors.” Students now have an abundance of choices from “Blue Razz” to “Banana Split,” giving “pick your poison” a whole new meaning. People can be puffing out smoke that smells like freshly baked cookies at this point.

This accessibility is evident by the noticeable uptick in addiction. The lack of smell and heavy smoke creates a perfect storm for parties. People can bring them anywhere, anytime. Students are introduced to nicotine left and right. You no longer need to leave the house and find a lighter to get a “buzz.” The student  said, “At parties, though, I see many people who do not own … nicotine devices or products, vaping or smoking.” 

People have “party smoked” since the beginning of time, but the amount you can consume has changed. You can smoke out of a disposable many times in a short time frame. If you continue to do this over the weekends, addiction can be creeping up on you before you know it. Another student said, “[I] don’t see people peer pressuring, but, at the same time, [I] don’t see people quitting.” Perhaps the addicts on campus are becoming painfully self-aware. They’re not going to force their friends to start, considering their own bitter reality regarding the addiction.

Cigarettes have made something of a comeback. Personally, I have seen an increase in people taking drags of cigarettes outside of parties. A surveyed student said, “Cigarette usage has also increased in the past decade in teenagers, I would argue. I think this is also largely because of the introduction of social media…to further some aesthetic appeal.” Perhaps the sexiness of a Marlboro Red is the sole reason for the increase of nicotine on campus.

Anxious, burnt-out students are prone to find comfort in the pacifying qualities of nicotine. Feeding this addiction used to be harder, even going back five years or so. With the introduction of a million kinds of delicious-smelling disposable vapes, Dickinson shouldn’t be surprised to see an increase in addicted students.