Students do not find Juuls to be cool

Story by Isabel Cosby, Managing Editor

Once, while attending a summer concert, senior Sophia Hansen noticed that all of the other teenagers around her were vaping.

“It was very windy out, so they were blowing smoke all over our faces,” Hansen said. “It kinda made it harder to enjoy [the concert].”

Experiences like these are common among students. Most high school students have either seen, heard of, smelled or smoked e-cigarettes. The devices are also known as an e-cigs, vapes or vape pens and their use among high schoolers has recently skyrocketed.

“I know a lot of people who do it but I don’t personally like it,” freshman Julien Courteaud said. “I don’t really care what other people do, as long as they don’t do it directly in my face.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teens are more likely to use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. In fact, the e-cigarette market grew by around 40 percent in 2017, with the company Juul serving as the primary culprit.

“We’re where we were 50 years ago with cigarettes, now with e-cigarettes,” students assistance program counselor Danielle Doskocil said. “We’ve only scratched the surface of how dangerous and unhealthy they are. Until then it’s just kind of the unknown.”

Doskocil works with East Meck, Myers Park and the middle schools that feed into them, and specializes in working with students who have had drug-related issues.

“I think that some teens go into it with the good intent of ‘this isn’t as bad as cigarettes,’ but we’re finding out pretty quickly that that’s actually not true,” Doskocil said.

Besides the fact that the use of e-cigarettes could potentially pose some serious health risks, some anti smoking advocates are concerned that it could lead some teens into smoking regular cigarettes.

“The biggest threat that e-cigarettes pose [to teens] is addiction because even though they don’t have tobacco in them, they have nicotine in them,” Doskocil said. “Once you get to a point where you are dependent on any substance, you’ve lost your freedom.”

According to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 43 percent of CMS high schoolers have used an electronic vapor product in the past and 20 percent of CMS high schoolers currently use an electronic vapor product. Some students at East Meck are wary of e-cigarettes like Juuls because of the risk of nicotine addiction.

“I don’t have a huge issue with vaping and e-cigarettes, I just think there’s obviously a risk of them being addictive,” junior Ash Warren said. “It’s like a waste, almost.”

Another concern students have with e-cigarettes is the fact that nobody seems to know what is in them.

“I’ll be honest, I say, ‘yes it’s dangerous,’ but I don’t truly know what it is or what’s in it,” Hansen said. “And that’s part of it; no one really knows what it is.”