Mom warns others about Juuling

Published 12:25 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

Jane Doe recently found her son’s stash.

“I got a tip from another mother that he was Juuling,” she said. “We found his stash, and learned so much.”

Of course, her name is not really Jane Doe, but she spoke to The Star-News on the condition of anonymity, in hopes that other parents would become aware of the habit many teens are developing.

The Juul is a small, sleek device that students can easily conceal in their palms. It resembles a flash-drive, but instead of computer files, the device stores nicotine.

Efforts to curb cigarette smoking have been so successful that the rate of high schoolers who smoke cigarettes dropped to a record-low 8.8 percent last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. That’s down from the high of 36.4 percent in 1997.

But as the rate of smoking cigarettes has dropped, the rates of students using e-cigarettes have grown. And the Juul makes it easier than ever for students to use tobacco, undetected.

Susan Short, director of the Covington County Children’s Policy Council, said the CPC started putting out information about Juuling after being contacted by two local school systems.

“The device is so little, and it looks like a jump drive,” Short said. “It is easily concealed because it’s so small. Kids can have them anywhere.”

The CPC’s effort to date has been to help raise awareness for parents.

According to the Juul website, each cartridge contains 0.7 mL with 5 percent nicotine by weight. One Juul pod is equivalent to smoking one pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs.

But information the CPC made available to parents last spring stated that the biggest draw for teens is that the pods come in fun flavors, such as cucumber, mango, and mint. And because the Juuls are so small, students can “smoke” or vape in class, without a teacher seeing them.

The FDA has banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, so Juul pods and other vaping devices can’t legally be sold to them. But teens still find ways to get them, as “Jane Doe” learned.

“I found out where my son was getting his,” she said. “And I called some other mothers to let them know. If they got caught at school, they could get in trouble.”

Most of the parents with whom she’s spoken don’t know what it is, and they aren’t worried about the potential bad habit.

“I also learned that last (school year), when there were 80-something kids out with the flu, it was because they were passing these things around. That’s how the flu spread.”

And she made another observation, that holds true with national research.

“It’s not the bad kids, or the kids that stay in trouble, that are doing this. These are great kids,” she said. “And I don’t think they realize they can get ahold of potentially harmful substances if they aren’t careful.”

Juul has been on the U.S. market for three years, but it truly took off last year, CNBC reported earlier this month. Retail sales hit $1.11 billion, giving the company 72.2 percent of the e-cigarette market.