Conversations about the dangers of vaping are popping up all over the internet as the news continues to shed light on illnesses and even deaths linked to the use of certain e-cigarettes. But some teens on social media are responding to the news in a unique way by using the viral hashtag #StopJuuling on TikTok.
As of Thursday evening, the hashtag on the popular video app has over 10 million views on original content created by its users. However, the videos don’t necessarily include the helpful warnings that one might expect. Instead, many of them are mocking recent reports about the epidemic and even faking their own vape-related illnesses.
One video in particular has received over 5.5 million views according to the user who posted it, Crislynn Keener. The 17-year-old tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she made the video where she pretended to be in the hospital with a collapsed lung as a result of Juuling for humor and to catch people’s attention.
“Many people are posting videos towards humor, such as making fun of people who Juul getting sick, jokes about how ‘all the teens died from Juuling in 2019,’ and shots of injuries warning to ‘not Juul’ when the injuries have no correlation to Juuling,” Keener wrote via email. (There have been six confirmed deaths and more than 450 cases of possible severe lung injury from vaping, but it’s not yet clear which products were used.)
“With my video, I was thinking of topics that have recently been very popular and sometimes controversial to catch people’s attention,” she says. “It has also been a joke amongst me and my friends that I would be the one out of our friend group to get a vape related illness because I had been vaping much longer than they had.”
Keener happened to be in the hospital when she decided to take advantage of her surroundings for content. That’s when she created the video faking a vaping-related illness.
“Wanna know what happens when you juul for 4 years?” the video reads. “Hospitalized and under surveillance for a collapsed lung!!”
The teen showed off an IV in her arm before having the camera scan across the room where she lay in a hospital bed.
“Stop vaping before it’s too late,” the video concludes.
Millions of views later, it’s clearly made an impact.
“Reactions to my video have been full of mixed emotions,” she says. “Some people comment saying that they feel sorry for me or that they are now stopping; others make fun of me or say that I deserve [the illness] and that they hope I don’t make it. I never intended for my video to necessarily go viral, as I only had 12 followers who were all my friends. Now, I currently have 20.6K followers, with 5.5M views on that single video, and a total of 704.2K likes.”
Other videos that have accumulated hundreds of thousands of likes under the #StopJuuling hashtag take a different approach to this Juul-related “humor” by attributing random injuries to vaping or even making jokes about future history lessons where 2019 is said to be the year “all teenagers died.”
Still, Keener says that, although her video was a joke — which she clarified in a follow-up post — she still takes the vaping epidemic seriously.
“Ever since I’ve seen and read about the stories of the hundreds of kids being affected by Juuling out of nowhere, I’ve been fear stricken because I myself Juuled for roughly 3 years,” she wrote. “If it was up to me, i would get the FDA to pull it from every store across the nation. These teens are full of potential, yet they throw it all away.”
The Trump Administration has actually started talks with the FDA about removing flavored e-cigarettes from the market.
Azar said the FDA will finalize guidance that would commence enforcement that other flavors than tobacco flavors be “removed from the market," per @Jordanfabian.
That guidance could lead to action to remove certain flavors from the market place -- ie: ban.
— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) September 11, 2019
Data shows a high usage of flavored e-cigarettes among our youth. It's our responsibility as parents to understand the dangers that come from vaping. Our Administration supports the removal of flavored e-cigarettes from stores until they're approved by @US_FDA. #BeBest pic.twitter.com/02O5waTgIj
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) September 11, 2019
In the meantime, Keener says that TikTok users will continue to use the platform to spread awareness about any culturally-relevant conversation.
“When people are passionate about what they believe in, they will use whatever platform they can to spread awareness and information about it. As for me, I think I’ve done my part,” she says. “I hope that my video made people scared enough that they quit vaping, or at least to plant the seed in their head that maybe vaping isn’t the best thing to keep doing.”
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