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To Juul or Not To Juul

Juuling+and+other+e-cigarettes+have+become+increasingly+popular+at+the+high+school+level-+the+trend+has+also+reached+Wash.
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To Juul or Not To Juul

Juuling and other e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular at the high school level- the trend has also reached Wash.

Juuling and other e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular at the high school level- the trend has also reached Wash.

Gabe Greco

Juuling and other e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular at the high school level- the trend has also reached Wash.

Gabe Greco

Gabe Greco

Juuling and other e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular at the high school level- the trend has also reached Wash.

By Paris McNutt, Cedar Rapids George Washington High School

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E-Cigarettes, especially JUULs have been the recent hype for high school students. There has been an increased use on campus and nationwide among teenagers. Currently, there is a large amount of effort to put an end to teenage use from a variety of resources within the school, in the community, and outside of the community.

E-cigarettes are electronic cigarettes that are often used as an alternative to traditional smoking. Vape pens, hookahs, and vaporizers are all known as e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine and come in different flavors. One popular e-cigarette product is JUUL, a vapor alternative to cigarettes. Its sleek design is similar to a USB and can be easily disguised.

A substance known as a JUULpod is easily popped in to the JUUL, providing flavor.  On JUULFacts.com, it says, JUULpods contain a low amount of nicotine, approximately four percent, flavor, and other chemicals. One JUULpod contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. JUUL’s website states the product is intended for adult smokers and not youth, but minors have been able to get their hands on the device. However, JUUL is using numerous tactics to prevent minors from using their products. For example, they require age verification, like providing an I.D., to make sure minors aren’t purchasing their products online by faking their age. JUUL is making a large effort to make their products less desirable to minors, overall.

Some staff and faculty at Wash lack awareness of this growing issue on campus. Students claim some teachers even fail to notice a student using a JUUL as their back is turned and the student casually slips the JUUL in their pocket as soon as the teacher turns back around. The science department has yet to catch a student using an e-cigarette or JUUL device.
“I haven’t caught a student yet. If it were to happen, I would report them and a possible suspension would happen,” Jacob Johnson of the science department, said.
On the other hand, some staff members are well-informed of this issue. According to Officer Thaddeus Paiser, the school’s resource officer, students are breaking school rules and the law in a few ways.
“Students aren’t very smart about it. They use e-cigarettes in front of security cameras or in bathrooms,” Paiser said.

He also added that minors are breaking Iowa’s 453A.2 code that states minors are not allowed to use, possess, purchase, or attempt to purchase tobacco products, which includes vapor products.

“I don’t understand why kids think it’s acceptable to use e-cigarettes. You wouldn’t just pull out a beer or cigarette in class.” Paiser said.

Valerie Nyberg, associate principal, is making efforts to bring awareness to this issue to staff.

“We are educating people, both students and adults within the building, about the dangers of using e-cigarettes and the increased use with students,” Nyberg said.

Students are up to date about the hype over e-cigarettes, especially JUULs. On average, students that use a vape or JUUL use the device 3.3 times a week, based on an anonymous survey the Surveyor conducted.

“I use a JUUL everyday. I feel the effects, but it doesn’t stop me from doing it,” one sophomore responder said. “I believe there are fewer chemicals within a JUUL.”

Students are either for e-cigarettes or against e-cigarettes, there’s no clear in-between.

“JUULs are really bad, but they are socially more acceptable than traditional cigarettes,” Amelia Barnes, ‘20 said.

“JUULs should not be legal because you can get distracted from your priorities,” an anonymous source said.

On the other hand, another anonymous source said JUULing should be legal for high schoolers, stating, “It is their decision whether or not they want to use them. If it were to be illegal, there’s always going to be a way to get it [the JUUL] just like teens smoking weed or drinking alcohol.”

Students have seen their peers pull out their JUULs in class, during lunch, and in the parking lots. They discreetly use the device in the courtyard, litter the parking lots with empty JUULpods, and show off their JUUL skins out in the open. Students know about ten of their peers that use a JUUL and see a JUUL being used on campus twice a week. There are consequences for use of e-cigarettes on campus, however.

“It’s the same as using a traditional tobacco product on campus, so there would be an immediate suspension,” Nyberg said.

Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller has partnered up with JUUL to limit sales involving minors and to stop minors from using their products. Recently, Miller issued a statement about how JUUL uses age-verification to make sure adolescents aren’t purchasing products under a different age or even access their website.

The statement also included JUUL is strongly encouraged for adult smokers looking for a safer alternative to smoking and it is not directed to minors in any way. Tom Miller’s communications director, Lynn Hicks stated, “…JUUL has stopped marketing to teens in any way, including on social media.”

As of Nov. 13, JUUL’s official Instagram account is no longer active and along with that, they have made an effective change by deleting accounts marketing their product to minors.

Another paper written by Miller provided details about youth use of e-cigarettes, claiming their use is “somewhat reassuring.”It says, “Only 1% of kids use e-cigarettes on a daily basis,” and “An estimated 80% of their use is experimental.” Miller’s office is hopeful that simply educating people, especially minors, about e-cigarettes can stabilize or lower these numbers.

E-cigarettes and JUULs may still be used by teenagers for a while, despite the health effects that can worsen with continued use. JUULs have their advantages, such as only benefiting adult smokers, who are looking for a switch to a safer alternative. Spreading awareness to teens, adults, and teachers about the dangers of using e-cigarettes and JUULs will limit use overtime.

Juul data taken by a Survey given to 187 students. National data form a CDC survey. Graphs by Benjamin Janssen

This story was originally published on The Surveyor on December 14, 2018.

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