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Juul causes buzz in WHS classrooms

Jordan Sacher and Liz Skoletsky

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​     No, a “Juul” is not a popular teenage jewelry fad everyone is suddenly raving about; it is in fact a small, odorless electronic cigarette that has taken off amongst teenagers, including many students in WHS.

     According to PAX Labs, the product’s creator, a Juul is an electronic cigarette that uses nicotine salts found in leaf-based tobacco to create an experience more similar to smoking than other e-cigarettes on the market. Juuls are most commonly used by adults trying to quit smoking, but it has also become a popular recreational habit for teens. Curiosity and peer pressure are two of the main reasons why the Juul has become so overwhelmingly popular with teens.
     A Juul starter pack costs $50-70, depending on whether it is bought on the official website, in a smoke shop or at a convenience store. The package comes with a Juul, a plug-in wall charger, and each of the four flavored pods (fruit, tobacco, mint, and crème brûlée). This high price can quickly accumulate along with the cost of pods, which come in packs of four and cost between $20-30.
     Throughout the past year, several students have been using the Juul during school hours and because of this rapid growth of use within the student population, students are risking suspension.
     WHS Vice Principal Mr. Jim DeSarno mentioned the difficulty of catching students using a Juul because of where they do it. “There is a chance that they’re not going to get caught; these are very hard cases to detect,” DeSarno said. “We don’t have cameras in the bathroom and we don’t plan on putting them in there.”
      For purpose of confidentiality, no students’ names will be used in this story.
     One WHS male sophomore is no stranger to using the Juul in school. He said: “I like the head rush I get and it makes me feel relaxed. Instead of sitting through a class sober, I can sit through it with a little buzz.”
     So far this year there have been multiple situations where students have been suspended or have gotten detention because they have been caught using a Juul during school hours. DeSarno said the product is considered in the same category as drug and tobacco use. “It’s the same discipline or conduct in terms of suspension,” he said.
     A male WHS freshman said, “Once kids started to get caught and even suspended, I stopped Juuling in school right away. But I still know so many people who haven’t stopped.”
     A female WHS senior added: “What I don’t understand is why people continue to do it after so many kids have already been caught and gotten suspended. The fact people can’t go eight hours without getting high is embarrassing.”
     DeSarno and the rest of the WHS administration believe that some students Juul for show, while others are struggling with addiction. Administrators are trying to follow up with those students and help them.
     It seems as though many students agree with DeSarno that social factors influence Juul use during school hours. “Honestly, I think people do it to be cool,” said a female junior. “There is a social reputation that kids think they need to have in this town, and Juuling is an easy way to boost it.”
     Another female junior at WHS said, “I was made fun of and excluded by my friends for a few days because I didn’t want to try one of their Juuls.”
    Students are even charging their Juuls during class. Juuls can easily be plugged into an outlet in the back of a classroom and can be passed off as a phone. A Juul only takes 56 minutes to reach its maximum charge, so a 43-minute school period allows for a decent charge.
     “The same two kids charge their Juuls almost every day in the back of the room during math class,” a WHS male sophomore mentioned. “Our teacher has never noticed, but the entire class is aware of what they really are doing.”
     Health Teacher Ms. Susan Kolesar said it’s time to begin a frank discussion of Juuls in WHS. “If the administration doesn’t raise awareness on this issue, students will continue to break the rules and risk their health,” Kolesar said.
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