Culver Academies was the Friday morning stop for actor Moses Jones, who has been traveling to schools through Indiana with the “Sweet Deceptions Tour.” Jones has been coming back to his home state to debunk many of the misconceptions and myths about e-cigarettes, vaping, and, in particular, Juul.
Jones said the biggest misconception about vaping is the products don’t contain nicotine, the addictive substance contained in cigarettes. But e-cigarettes contain anywhere from 6 to 30 milligrams of nicotine and each individual Juul pod contains 59 mg, the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes.
Juul cannot be sold in Europe because of the high levels of nicotine, he said. Also, Juul uses nicotine salts, which cuts the harshness of the vapor. Other e-cigarette manufacturers rely on “freebase” nicotine which leads to a harsher feeling in the throat.
There is a reason why the major tobacco company, Altria (Marlboro cigarettes) invested $12.8 billion in the Juul. It just cut its stake over the recent negative publicity, Jones said.
While denying it, Juul has been targeted at middle school and high school students, he said. Based in San Francisco, the company devised a product that looks more like a jump drive than a cigarette. It is easier to hide and the individual flavored cartridges are colorful, reminding people of iPods.
“There’s a reason why they are called the iPhone of e-cigs,” Jones said. Juul’s design and the subsequent branding that relies on social media influencers is what has made it so popular with younger people. And that is the major problem.
“Everybody knows what Juul is,” Jones said. “But nobody knows what Juul is.”
Everyone understands that Juul is an alternative to smoking cigarettes, he explained, but they don’t understand that it is still harmful. “Safer doesn’t mean safe.”
Nicotine has an especially strong impact on the developing brain of younger users, making the addiction harder to overcome. And the related health problems and deaths related to vaping have been in the news.
And the danger is not just to the person who is vaping. People who are breathing in the exhaled vapor are also at risk. It is not just water vapor, Jones said, which is what most people think. It is an aerosol containing potentially cancer-causing chemicals.
Jones knows from personal experience that nicotine is the “hardest addiction in the world to break.” His mother has been told that she will not live long enough see her grandchildren – his children – grow up. She is in her fifties.
The troubling statistics are that 18.5 percent of all high school students in Indiana have tried vaping. That is after smoking had dropped to an all-time low. The vaping increase is because of the various flavors and the misconception that vaping is not harmful. Sixty-three percent of those using e-cigarettes don’t believe that nicotine is part of every vaping formula.
An actor, producer, and editor, Jones is known for his work in “The Hate U Give,” “Night School,” and “Barbershop 3: The Next Cut” and various television appearances. A native of Indianapolis, Jones graduated from Ball State University. He is now based in Atlanta.
He frequently returns to Indiana to work with the Indiana Department Health on the “Sweet Deceptions Tour.” People can follow the program on Instagram using the handle @VoiceIndiana.