JUUL e-cigarettes make their way into local schools


FOREST, Va. (WSET) - There's a new brand of e-cigarettes that you may not even recognize at first.

And, teens in our area are getting their hands on them.

They are called JUUL.

A starter kit comes with the e-cigarette device and four nicotine pods.

It looks more like a flash drive, which means some students think they can get away with using them in class.

“We have just recently seen a rise in students possessing these devices at Jefferson Forest High,” Bedford County spokesperson, Ryan Edwards said. “Yesterday at the school's weekly faculty meeting, all staff were educated on what the devices look like and we asked them to be vigilant in spotting them.”

The e-cigarettes may fool some adults, but Tobacco Treatment Specialist, Cheryl Burnette, says many teenagers know what they are.

"They are very popular right now with teenagers and college campuses,” Centra Tobacco Treatment Specialist, Cheryl Burnette, said.

Popular, but dangerously strong.

“This is going to be a pack of cigarettes, if you use one of these cartridges,” Burnette said.

Burnette say students can hide them in plain sight, even vaping in class.

“You can actually swallow the smoke and that is what students are doing and it's absolutely horrific because you are getting all that, not only into your lungs but back into your stomach,” Burnette said.

Edwards said parents need to talk to their children about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

“We ask that our parents be vigilant as well,” Edwards said. “These devices contain nicotine; a well-known highly addictive substance. It's important that our parents do their part in helping us keep these devices out of the hands of their children.”

Several stores around the Lynchburg area confirmed they have the JUUL starter kit and pods in stock.

ABC 13 bought the starter kit at Sheetz, which is just a half mile from Jefferson Forest High School. It cost about $52. Sheetz says they work hard to make sure these e-cigarettes don’t end up in the hands of minor.

“Sheetz takes this law very seriously and it is the company’s policy to card any customer that appears to be under the age of 30 prior to purchasing cigarettes, cigars or e-cigarettes,” Sheetz spokesperson Nicholas Ruffner said.

“I think the important thing is that, A, no one under the age of 18 should be using these and its particularly bad for children and teenagers because it affects the development of the brain,” Burnette said.

Officials with JUUL released the following statement:

“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.”

The JUUL official website has information on underage use of the product which can be found by clicking here.

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