On September 18, 2017, an Account Manager of Influencer Marketing Agency, Lumanu, emailed me about collaborating with JUUL. JUUL, also known as “The Smoking Alternative”, appealed to me at the time, because I was consciously considering smoking again. I had been a cigarette smoker, on and off, for years. Though, I would eventually get turned off to cigarettes, because of its malodorous odor, and the impending nausea that almost always followed. I was introduced to the vapor alternative, through my best friend, who was smoking JUUL for a few weeks then. He favored the vaporizer for its discreetness and sleek design.
I agreed to partner with JUUL―creating lifestyle images for a thoroughly written blog post (here), and a single Instagram post (here). I was asked to provide my monthly blog unique visits, statistics, and content pitch, as to which I replied with my press kit, and idea for the campaign… “My idea for this campaign is to talk about how I let off some steam (or vapor in this case) with JUUL. Since I no longer drink alcohol, JUUL is a wonderful and satisfying alternative to smoking actual cigarettes. I’d also mention it’s my guilty pleasure.” The Lumanu Account Manager and I corresponded until October 5, 2017, before negotiating rates and securing placement.
As part of my contract, JUUL provided a code to purchase my own Starter Kit and Pod Pack. I used this device to create the content for my sponsored blog and Instagram posts, on November 13, 2017. However, prior to posting, there was much debate over my original draft. I was adamant on discussing my true intended use for JUUL―and was asked to remove anything referring to my sobriety; specifically including the word “addiction”. The truth is, I am a person who suffers from alcohol addiction, and I believed JUUL was a better option for me, versus smoking cigarettes. While I was disappointed I couldn’t discuss my recovery, we were able to reach agreement on an alternative route.
JUUL worked for me, until it didn’t.
For a few months, I chose to continue smoking JUUL. I was fully aware I was ingesting nicotine, but I never expected to become addicted, as that was not my experience in the past. JUUL worked for me, until it didn’t. I began suffering from extreme dehydration. This led to a 72 hour migraine, and a visit to the emergency room. At the time, I wasn’t convinced JUUL was the culprit. I remember working from home one day, feeling sharp stomach pains from smoking JUUL, and deciding I needed to quit. There was a real desire to do so, however I was already addicted to the act of smoking JUUL, and its nicotine.
Quitting JUUL had become extremely difficult and very triggering. Having gone through quitting one addiction already, made me feel awful. Here I was, 2 years sober from substances, and now battling addiction, once again. And even though I knew JUUL was causing me physical pain, I couldn’t put it down. I felt powerless. It got to the point where I had to ask my roommate to take the JUUL from me, and dispose of it outside our apartment. Once the vaporizer was gone, I began to feel like I had a sense of control. What I didn’t know was, how bad my addiction grew.
I’d come to realize, the withdrawals from smoking JUUL were worse than when I quit drinking alcohol. What helped me most was, already having developed coping skills for such an experience. I’d been part of a program of recovery for my alcohol addiction, and was able to use the tools I learned to treat my nicotine addiction. It has been 9 months since I used JUUL, and all of my symptoms have completely subsided. Today, I occasionally smoke cigarettes, and I am okay with that. This is in no way to encourage anyone to pick up smoking cigarettes as an alternative, it is just what worked for me.
Throughout this process, I have been interviewed by numerous media outlets, including CNN and Time. I intend to continue speaking out on my experience with JUUL, and educate as many people as I can. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, and thank you so much for reading my story.
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