‘Juul’ e-cigarettes appear in schools, can cause overdoses

No, you won’t see very many students smoking on the high school campuses these days.

Now, maybe you’ll see someone who looks like he or she is sucking on a flash drive, which is actually a type of e-cigarette known as a Juul, pronounced “jewel.” They’re seemingly innocuous items, easily concealed in the palm of the hand.

Kids think these aren’t as dangerous as actual cigarettes, but they could be wrong. Plus, they can be used to deliver drugs besides nicotine, such as marijuana.

Cleveland High principal Scott Affentranger said not only does his school have a problem with students imbibing with Juuls, but also on Aug. 29, a student overdosed on a Juul.

E-cigarettes have been an issue on the other side of Northern Boulevard, too.

“(In August), we had eight e-cigs found on students with about half testing positive for THC,” said Sherri Carver, Rio Rancho High School principal. “We have had about three Juuls confiscated since the beginning of school. I suspect many students are using or experimenting with Juuls, but are keeping them out of sight. No ODs, but all these students received referrals and suspensions.”

Here’s how vox.com describes this new phenomenon, or trend: A Juul has two components — the e-cigarette, which holds the battery and temperature regulation system. The “pod,” which contains e-liquid — made up of nicotine, glycerol and propylene glycol, benzoic acid and flavorants — is inserted into the end of the e-cigarette.

These “pods” come in a variety of colors and flavors, from cucumber to creme brûlée, mango and tobacco. A Juul starter kit — e-cigarette, USB charger and four flavor pods — sells for about $50.

When you insert the pod into its cartridge and inhale through a mouthpiece on the end of the Juul, the device vaporizes the e-liquid. When the device runs out of power, you can insert it into your computer via a USB charger for a reboot.

What sets it apart from other e-cigarettes is that it hits the body with a tobacco cigarette-worthy dose of nicotine.

“E-cigarettes, devices that typically deliver nicotine, flavorings and other additives to users through an inhaled aerosol, are a rapidly emerging trend, and are especially popular among youth and young adults,” reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These devices are referred to by a variety of names, including “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes” and “tank systems.”

A recent National Youth Tobacco Survey found 11.7 percent of high school students and 3.3 percent of middle-school students were e-cigarette users in 2017.

Scientists are still learning more about how e-cigarettes affect health, the CDC reported, but there is already enough evidence to justify efforts to prevent e-cigarette use by young people.

The vapor from e-cigarettes contains harmful ingredients, including nicotine. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing brain.

Two years ago, a U.S. Surgeon General’s report on e-cigarette use (cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/e-cigarettes) among youth and young adults became the first report issued by a federal agency that carefully reviewed the public health issue of e-cigarettes and their impact on our nation’s young people.

E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used form of tobacco by youth in the U.S., reported the CDC, and dual use — using e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes — is common among 18- to 25-year-olds. Reasons reported by young people for using e-cigarettes include curiosity, taste and the belief that e-cigarettes are less harmful than other tobacco products.

Because most tobacco use starts during adolescence, actions to protect our nation’s young people from a lifetime of nicotine addiction are critical.