Scottie/B.T. O’Bryan, Jamie Boeheim, Mia Potamianos
Editor of Production, Assistant Producer, Editor of Promotion
With numerous suspensions in surrounding Central New York districts, and even a few at Jamesville-DeWitt High School, the vaping epidemic is sweeping through the lives of teenagers across the country. The most popular being the JUUL, an electronic vape pen that is used with highly concentrated nicotine pods that come in different flavors. Because this device creates less smoke and does not have a strong smell, it is easy to smoke a JUUL almost anywhere. Students are taking advantage of this by vaping in school bathrooms, sporting events, and even on occasion, in classrooms. Administrative officials and teachers are beginning to crack down on vaping, and the JUUL specifically.
JUULs have a small and slender body that is similar to a portable flash drive. The nicotine is contained in what is called a pod. When buying pods, they come in a variety of color-coordinated flavors; mango, cool mint, virginia tobacco, fruit medley and creme brulee. JUULs retail for $34.99, JUUL pods sell for $15.99 for a 4-pack, or $49.99 for a starter-kit which includes a JUUL device, a 4-pack of pods, and a USB charger along with a one year device warranty. JUULs are rechargeable and a single pod can last a daily user a day or two. The effects of a JUUL are similar to those of tobacco products like cigarettes: a short, head-spinning “high” along with feelings of happiness caused by the nicotine.
By law, the age restriction for purchasing a JUUL device, both in-store and online, is 21 and over. However, depending on the state and county laws, you can legally buy the JUUL pods at ages 18 or 19. In Onondaga County they can be purchased by 19 year olds. High school students are finding ways to obtain JUULs through either older siblings and friends or with the use of fake identification. Due to the high demand among the American youth, stores that sell JUULs sell out within days of restocking, and its exclusivity makes it even more sought after by its young market.
Not only is it illegal for high school students, but little is known about the health effects that come along with vaping. Some compare these JUULS to cigarettes, saying that both are extremely addictive because of nicotine or other chemical substances. “Although nicotine is in both, its the other chemicals that are in cigarettes that aren't in (JUULS),” says Health teacher Melissa Moore. Since vaping is a fairly new introduction to the market, much of the substances and manufacturing is unregulated. Mrs. Moore also says that American teens are the “guinea pigs” for vaping since so little is known about the long term health effects.
“If you’re using a vape with nicotine, then you might as well just go outside and smoke a cigarette, same idea,” said Mrs. Moore. Student counselor Will Hartley, who is trained in The Alcohol Drug Abuse Prevention Education Program agrees, and says that teenagers are choosing the “easier” way of doing drugs rather than smoking a pack of cigarettes. “One benefit with vaping is that your aren’t inhaling smoke, but usually, one leads to the other,” said Moore.
As these highly addictive, chemically filled vaping devices are becoming increasingly popular amongst teenagers, the danger of addiction grows. If you see a student in school with a JUUL and/or a device that looks like a flashdrive, report them to Administration. All activity will be kept confidential. Help to end the vaping before it becomes an addiction that they are unable to quit.