A new product, called Juul, is grabbing the attention of teens for its sleek style, ease of use and fun flavors.
Lamar High School senior Payton Johnson told Eyewitness News he's witnessed students using the nicotine filled e-cigarette at school, "some people do it during class, a lot of people go to the restroom and do it."
Johnson says he purchased the device to relieve stress and tells us he has also Juuled on campus.
A parent of another student at Lamar High School contacted Eyewitness News after his son admitted to Juuling in school.
"He kept saying 'well it's not going to hurt me, it's not going to hurt me,' but the reality is the change in personality and the change in his focus really did make an impact."
The father, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his student, wants Houston ISD to do more to stop students from using the device and sharing it with others.
"Here's the thing about Juuling, kids can hide it, it's very hard to detect. I know that kids are doing it in school."
The Juul, which can be purchased for around $65, was designed to look like a flash drive and comes with a USB charger and four nicotine pods that are flavored: cool mint, fruit medley, creme brulee and Virginia tobacco.
"Kids are not realizing, going for the flavors that look like candy, that taste like candy but really it's something behind it that is really serious," said Dr. Ashish Arya, Program Director for Youth & Family Prevention Plan at MD Anderson
Each pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
"The younger your brain, the higher the risk of getting addicted to nicotine," said Dr. Pushan Jani, a pulmonologist with Memorial Hermann Hospital and UT Health.
Doctors are worried the hip and innocent looking tech device with its fun sounding flavors is truly a dangerous product.
"With Juul the problem is the content and concentration of nicotine, both of those things are so high that an average e-cigarette pales compared to this," said Dr. Arya.
They want parents to talk to teens about the increased risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure and addiction from smoking nicotine, and withdrawal symptoms of depression, nervousness and anxiety.
E-cigarettes are not regulated and there is no warning label on the product.
HISD tells us they do not tolerate any e-cigarette on campus, including the Juul, but say they have not yet done any training to help teachers detect this new sleek, tech-style device.
Full statement from JUUL Labs:
JUUL Labs' mission is to eliminate cigarette smoking by offering existing adult smokers a true alternative to cigarettes. JUUL is not intended for anyone else. We strongly condemn the use of our product by minors, and it is in fact illegal to sell our product to minors. No minor should be in possession of a JUUL product.
Our goal is to further reduce the number of minors who possess or use tobacco products, including vapor products, and to find ways to keep young people from ever trying these products. We approach this with a combination of education, enforcement, technology and partnership with others who are focused on this issue, including lawmakers, educators, community leaders and our business partners. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate and engage with parents and educators and encourage them to email us at email@example.com.
Some of our initiatives include:
- Limiting the sale of JUUL on our website to ages 21+. JUUL's ecommerce platform incorporates industry-leading controls to help ensure minors are not able to purchase our products on our website.
- Working to engage school districts across the country to deploy educational programs.
- Actively working with law enforcement and community leaders across the country.
- Deploying a secret shopper program to monitor age verification of retailers.
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