HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT: Juuling smoking fad growing among teens - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT: Juuling smoking fad growing among teens

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A new smoking fad among teens is harder than ever to detect. It's called "juuling" and there's fear that it's helping create a new generation of smokers.

Puffing an electronic cigarette or a similar device is called vaping. The device heats a liquid into an vapor that can be inhaled, similar to inhaling cigarette smoke. Many schools forbid vaping, so students have resorted to concealing them. A company called JUUL is becoming the most popular among teens, because it can go virtually undetected.

Hundreds of video examples have been uploaded to Instagram and Snapchat of teens catching a buzz in the middle of class, unknowingly to teachers. Substance abuse experts are fearful of what this craze could mean.

"This is the next generation of smoker. Cigarettes are not popular anymore. Cigarettes use has gone down. Cigar use has gone down. Vaporizes, electronic smoking devices, these are what they're getting the younger generation with," Cody Crawford said. Crawford is a prevention specialist with the Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC) in Cedar Rapids.

Unlike traditional vapes, JUULs are small, sleek, and most importantly, discreet.

"It's so easily concealed that if you don't know what you're looking for, you're just not going to see it," Crawford said.

JUULs look a lot like a flash drive. In fact, they can charge through an USB port. They also produce less smoke and odor, which adds to their appeal.

"When it becomes a trend, when it becomes hot, it fires off, It goes. The biggest thing is education. A lot of kids don't consider this vaping. They don't consider it an e-smoking device.They think its safe. It's clearly not," Crawford said.

Health experts point out that one JUUL pod has as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. According to Crawford, it also is smother to smoke than a traditional cigarette.

"When you start that young, the likelihood that you are going to continue to smoke for the remainder of your life, jumps astronomically," he said.

While the makers of JUUL say their product is only for legal adults trying to kick the habit, they came in flavors such as creme brulee and fruit medley, which Crawford said attracts teens to them.

Area schools are now catching on to the growing trend. Solon High School principal, Nathan Wear, alerted staff and parents after seeing a rise in it at school.

"Parents were shocked. Most people hadn't ever heard of it. A lot of our staff hadn't seen one," he said.

Wear said they caught wind of it after students starting uploading videos of them juuling in the school's bathrooms and locker rooms.

"I'm not naive. I think it's happening daily inside the building but I think our response is better now," he said.

E-cigarettes and vaping were recently added to the school's zero-tobacco policy. Wear said they've also started to introduce the potential health risks in health classes. He echoed Crawfords words that he believes students believe juuling isn't unhealthy.

"This is the cigarette problem schools have always have, smoking in the bathroom, now it just happens to be an e-cig and vaping," he said.

Both ASAC and Wear recommend that, as parents, to know what JUUL looks like and to talk to their kids. They say it's likely they're already coming into contact with it on a daily basis.

This week, the Food and Drug Administration announced a plan to crack down on underage use of the e-cigarette. They also asked the manufacturers to turn over marketing research to try and answer why this product has become so popular amongst teens.

In response, JUUL announced a $30 million plan in an effort to keep its product out of the hands of underage youth. JUUL plans to create an expert panel on the issue which will be led by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

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