Student Juul Use Rises

Phillip Randazzo, Staff Writer

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The FDA has proposed a ban on the top juul pod flavors that specifically target teens and stricter online age verification processes, but teenagers juuling is still common, even at Barnstable High School.
This electronic device heats the nicotine juice in the flavored pod, releasing vapor into the air. Smokers need to be at least 18 to purchase a juul, but that does not stop teens from accessing them.
Juul is one of the most popular e-cigarette brands. Teenagers can easily deceive adults because it looks similar to a USB drive.
“I would juul in class all the time last year,” said a sophomore boy. “Nobody noticed except the kids around me, and they were all my friends.”
Some teachers have noticed an increase in students using e-cigarettes and attribute it to peer pressure.
“Certain types of students are always looking for ways to stand out, and this is a way to stand out,” said Morgan Grey, a Latin teacher new to BHS.
One sophomore girl relies on a close friend of hers to buy her juul pods for her. She was introduced to juuling by the same friend last summer, and hasn’t stopped since. “They buy my flavors at a convenience store.”
After obtaining the juul, she has a secret hideaway to avoid her mother ever finding out. “I go in my room and put my juul in my bra pocket,” the sophomore girl said. This ongoing transaction has been going on since the middle of last summer. “Cucumber is my favorite flavor!”
 The flavor of juul pods heavily impacts the decision to begin vaping. Flavors like “cool cucumber” are what keeps minors hooked. “It’s an addiction,” explained a junior boy who requested anonymity. “The flavors keep me wanting to come back for more.”
Students at BHS typically juul in the bathrooms. According to Housemaster Eric Currey, the 1600s and 2600s bathrooms are where teens are seen juuling the most. Some students like to rotate bathrooms to avoid being caught.
“It tends to be a game of Pop Goes The Weasel where they hit on one bathroom and go to the next,” said Currey.
If a student is caught with any form of tobacco product, paraphernalia, or e-cigarettes, the student will serve one Saturday detention. However, some teenagers do not take it seriously.
“It is a Saturday school, not a suspension,” said the sophomore boy. “Nobody takes those seriously after their first time.” 
 Juuling can be used as a stress reliever for teens. “It’s the only method to help me cope with my home life. It relaxes me,” said the junior boy. 
 According to the FDA, nicotine is harmful to brains in the process of development. Younger users are less likely to quit and are at a higher risk than other teens their age when it comes to struggling with other substance addictions. “I’ll probably be dysfunctional when I’m older,” the sophomore girl laughed. “Oh well!”
 The use of nicotine may distract minors from learning in school. “Vaping is almost always on my mind,” the junior boy stated. 
 The brain is not fully mentally developed in high school. “Any sort of chemical alterations to your body while growing are going to cause an impact one way or another,” said Grey
According to Scholastic, one in every three high schoolers try using some form of e-cigarettes during their academic career. If you begin vaping in high school, you are more likely to experiment with dangerous drugs.
Parents and teachers are worried about the health of today’s youth. Some teenagers claim that they’d stop if their parents instructed them to. “Why wouldn’t I?” One sophomore girl asked. “She’s my momma.”
Housemasters take extra precautions to prevent students from using nicotine. “When we catch a kid, we always communicate with parents and let them know,” said Currey. “If we’re highly suspicious they are juuling, we’ll reach out to parents and let them know our concern.”
From teachers of Barnstable High School to the FDA, adults are determined to stop the ever-growing rate of high schoolers smoking e-cigarettes. According to the FDA, vape usage has increased by 78 percent among teens.
“Concern from adults stems from wanting the best for our students,” said Grey. “Our reasons are punitive because we want you to understand how serious we take your safety.”