BALTIMORE —Parents are being warned about a new vaping device, called a Juul pen, is quickly becoming popular in schools.
The Juul pen looks like a flash drive, but cartridges go inside that are filled with liquid nicotine. However, substance misuse experts say kids are filling them with other drugs.
“It’s very easy to hide, and what they do is, they take the little cartridges that are full of liquid nicotine and they replace it with liquid marijuana,” said substance misuse expert, Mike Gimble.
There is no odor, so users can smoke it anywhere without anyone knowing what’s inside. Gimble said most adults don’t recognize it, but it’s the hot new thing for teens.
“(The teens) all know about it. The people that don’t know about it are the parents and faculty, and that’s why we need to bring these adults up on what these kids are doing to hide it, what they’re doing to use it, when they’re using it,” Gimble said.
Savas Karas, father of three, and board member on the Parent Teacher Student Association of Hereford Middle and High School, just recently learned what a Juul looks like.
“Even being involved with my children, hearing them talk about Juuling, I had no idea what the actual Juul cartridge looked like, and I had no idea what the actual Juul mechanism looked like,” Karas said.
Karas and his fellow PTSA members put together a letter to parents which they posted on their Facebook page. It has now been shared by PTA organizations in 12 counties.
“As a parent, you’re obviously involved, that your children are going to get involved in it, either willingly or unwillingly. Someone hands them something, they don’t know what it is,” Karas said.
Karas said parents need to educate themselves on Juuling and have an open dialogue with their children about the dangers.
“I would say that, it’s something that they have to be aware of — something they have to know — what the actual device looks like, and they should talk to their kids about Juuling,” Karas said.
Baltimore County Schools said in a statement that they support what the PTSA is doing.
A JUUL Labs spokesperson released a statement, saying:
“JUUL Labs’ mission is to eliminate cigarette smoking by offering existing adult smokers a true alternative to combustible 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 and our business partners.
“An individual who has not previously used nicotine products should not start, particularly youth. Recent science raises serious concerns about the adverse effect of nicotine on adolescent neurodevelopment.
“We encourage parents to talk with their children about the dangers of nicotine. As a company we also continuously seek ways to contribute to this dialogue and knowledge base.”