Schools, health providers concerned by JUUL e-cigarette

By  | 

ARLINGTON, V.A. (CBS) If you have never heard of a JUUL, ask a teenager what it is. JUUL is a new e-cigarette device that fits in the palm of your hand and schools nationwide are trying to keep them out of the hands of students.

In videos all over social media, more teenagers are using this new vaping device at school.

"The kids doing it in my high school are not discreet about it at all," said Abby Bernstein, a high school senior in Arlington, Virginia.

"They can be at home, at school, at any place, plug it in, and no one would know," said Dr. Mila Vascones-Gatski, a substance abuse counselor for the Arlington Schools.

The JUUL is a new e-cigarette, small enough to fit into a marker and resembling a USB flash drive.

"It has a cool factor--kids are attracted to it. It's very easy to conceal, it's affordable, and in terms of smell it doesn't give much of a smell so parents can't detect it," Dr. Vascones-Gatski said. She says JUUL is changing how middle and high school students vape. Last year she confiscated one e-cigarette in six months. This year it's two per week.

Dr. Mila Vascones-Gatski: This year, all of them have been JUULS. We haven't found maybe just one different vape.
Weija Jang: All of them?
Dr. Mila Vascones-Gatski: All of them have been JUULS.

Like many e-cigarettes, nicotine pods for JUUL come in a catchy flavors like creme brulee and mango. One pod is equivalent to smoking about one pack of cigarettes. Dr. John Spangler, a professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, cautions the long term effects of vaping are not known. "Since nicotine alters the way the brain develops, we are concerned about adolescents, and even young adults, so using these products while there brain is still forming," he said.

On their website the makers of JUUL say they are committed to combating underage use of their product.

Dr. Vascones-Gatski says she's getting the word out about Juuling to educate students, parents and staff so these devices don't end up in the hands of children.