August 23, 2018 06:52 PM
In two weeks, kids will be back to class and if you've got a middle or high schooler, you'll want to keep a close eye on their backpacks and their pockets.
The number of young people smoking e-cigarettes and Juuls is sky-rocketing. In 2017, one in three students in Monroe County admitted to trying an e-cigarette.
In some local school districts, principals were confiscating vape pens and Juuls every single day last year and with a new school year upon us, they're anticipating it'll be even worse.
Nichole Shuboney and Giavani Marrocco both go to different local high schools but they see the same thing day after day, their friends and classmates using e-cigarettes.
"They just think, "oh, it's the new thing, it's cool to do,"" Shuboney says.
"A lot of them just think it's cool and it's not really that big of a deal," adds Marrocco.
Juuls, in particular, can be purchased online or at vape stores for about $50 and are the size of a thumb drive.
Like most vape pens, they give off very little evidence they've even been smoked.
"It's really easy for kids to do it in school because they can go into the bathroom and especially with Juul, it's not really that big so they can duck behind something in class and do it," Shuboney says.
One "pod" for the Juul gives users about 200 puffs.
The amount of nicotine in one pod is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes.
Because of how small the devices are, teachers and administrators aren't always aware they're being used in school.
"They don't put out a smoke that lingers for a long time and goes down the hallway like you would have with cigarettes but they're just as dangerous and in some ways even more dangerous," says Timothy Heaphy, principal at East Ridge High School in East Irondequoit.
There's also another concern with e-cigarettes and vape products.
"You can put other things into them and it's not just the pods that are sold at the stores to adults but you can go online and look these things up, how to mix things and put stuff in that has THC or other drugs that are harder. So, you're hanging out with a kids who are just using it for nicotine and this kids says, "hey look what I did" and then it's an easy start to do those things," Heaphy adds.
The makers of Juul and other e-cigarette and vape products maintain that the devices are intended to help adult cigarette smokers try to quit but health advocates say they're actually luring-in teens.
"They (teens) can build them up, they can choose their size, their color, their theme. On top of that, there's hundreds of flavors... if you were to go to a vape shop, you'd get a binder with several hundred flavors, you can mix and match and you can create your own. You can make superhero themed vape pens, hello kitty... It's crazy the amount of customization that goes into e-cigarettes today," says Joe Potter, Reality Check youth coordinator in Monroe County for the American Lung Association.
Studies conducted by the American Lung Association show kids who use e-cigarettes are 90-percent more likely to eventually start smoking traditional ones, it's something Marrocco says he's seen with some of his friends, "I've definitely seen people that have used e-cigarettes, vapes, anything like that have gone to smoking and smoking both."
So, what are local school districts doing about it?
News10NBC surveyed a number of them and most say that anyone caught with a vaping device in school will have it confiscated and his/her parent will be called.
The student will then likely have to meet with a counselor to talk about the health dangers.
Most districts do not return the devices unless parents specifically request them back. All of that, of course, only applies if the device wasn't used as a front to smoke marijuana.
If that's the case, all disciplinary options are on the table.
"It's not just don't bring them to school. Really, think about yourself and your future," warns Principal Heaphy.
Created: August 23, 2018 06:52 PM
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