Deceiving new device leads to teens vaping in class


WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Using traditional cigarettes is on the decline, and e-cigarette usage is on the increase according to Wichita Falls health educators.

Ways to hide vaping are also on the increase, and a new device is making it easier for teens to vape at school.

"The kids doing it in my classes are not discreet about it at all," said Abby Bernstein, a senior.

JUUL is a new e-cigarette, small enough to fit into a marker, resembling a USB flash drive.

"They fit in your hand," said Amanda Kennedy, Health Educator with the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District. "The youth have started to use it because they can conceal it."

She said they can use it and nobody can really see them do it.

Kennedy said there is a misconception that JUULs do not have nicotine in them and are not addictive.

"But Juuls do have nicotine in them, even though it's small and it's cute and it looks like it's fun, it's highly addictive and highly dangerous to you," she said.

Like many e-cigarettes, nicotine pods for JUUL come in catchy flavors such as crème brûlée and mango.

Kennedy said they are affordable and are changing how middle and high school students vape.
She adds one pod is equivalent to smoking about one pack of cigarettes.

Dr. John Spangler, professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, cautions that the long-term effects of vaping are not known.

"Since nicotine alters the way the brain develops, we are concerned about adolescents and even young adults using these products while their brain is still forming," Spangler said.

Kennedy said teens do not realize the long-term effect that e-cigarettes can have on other organs in their bodies, like their lungs.

On their website, the makers of JUUL say they are committed to combating underage use of their product. They say their goal is to provide adult smokers an alternative to traditional cigarettes.

Kennedy said she is getting the word out about JUULing to educate students, parents and staff so the devices do not end up in the hands of children.

The trouble is nicotine is as addictive as heroin, which means even casual vaping can lead to a lifelong struggle to kick a drug that's bad for your health, even if you're not getting it in cigarettes.

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