LYON COUNTY, KY — There’s a nationwide effort to curb e-cigarette use among teens. One in 10 high school students is using an e-cig device, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The most popular type is the Juul.
Not all lessons are learned in the classroom. Lyon County High School senior Ki’ana Graves and dozens of others are learning more about a potentially life-altering habit. “I feel like your harming your body regardless of what you smoke,” said Graves.
That’s true, but what teenagers are “smoking” now, Principal Tom Radivonyk said, is easier to hide. “Smoking a cigarette is really hard to conceal. If a kid is dipping you can see it. They have to have a bottle that they’re walking around with. It’s just that this (an e-cigarette) is so easy to hide,” said Radivonyk.
Vaping, also know as Juuling, is becoming more popular in high schools and middle schools, even though people under 18 can’t legally buy them. “Very popular. I wouldn’t say that they’re easy to get, but there are little ways that you can get them underage for one. But they’re very popular. I see them a lot. A lot of my friends do it,” said Graves.
The growing trend of vaping is why Cardiologist Dr. Pat Withrow is taking the role as teacher for an assembly. “Extremely addictive to adolescents. So, smooth and big vapes coming out, they just don’t understand the possibility of what happens. This can destroy the 50 years that we’ve been trying to get kids away from nicotine,” said Withrow.
Withrow said the latest numbers show that Juul use has increased by 77 percent in the past year among high school students. In middle school, it’s 50 percent. “I tell them it can drop your IQ eight to 10 points. If you were programmed to do well in college, it may be you never will. You’ll never reach your full equivalent of that,” said Withrow.
Teachers have confiscated seven vaping devices already this school year. When a device is confiscated from a student at Lyon County High School, their parents will be contacted. That student will lose the vaping device. He or she will then spend five days in school removal.
What makes Juuls harmful? The chemicals in the flavorings. “There is no compelling reason for any juvenile with an adolescent brain to even try this, but basically what is happening is that the tobacco companies are marketing this stuff to kids,” said Withrow.
Each little pod on the Juul device has enough nicotine to equal a whole pack of cigarettes. That’s 200 puffs. Those are facts Radivonyk wants students to walk away with. “There is some misinformation. I’ve had students tell me things like ‘I didn’t know there was tobacco in it. I thought it was just water vapor,’ or ‘I’m only using this to blow smoke rings. I didn’t know this was bad for me,'” explained Radivonyk.
Withrow is talking at a number of schools in hopes of stopping at least one student from nicotine addiction, and will be speaking at a Kentucky statewide e-cig conference in December.
He suggests parents and guardians make a contract with their kids to not start vaping or Juuling. Withrow and Radivonyk agree that there are no bad kids, just bad choices.
Nov. 13th, e-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs released plans to decrease the underage use of its products. Juul announced it would stop selling flavored e-cigarettes at all of the 90,000 retail locations where they’re currently sold.