School initiates campaign to end juuling among students

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The start of a new semester brought a new goal for administration: stop the harmful trend of “juuling” among its students. Concerned with the negative impact this trend may have on younger students especially, Middle School Dean of Discipline Danny Bailey led the effort and began taking steps to open the dialogue about this issue between faculty and students.

Following the lead of high schools across the country, Bailey spearheaded a campaign starting in January to solve the problem of juuling at school. TV Productions students created an anti-juuling video that was shown in all advisory classrooms. Seniors were also sent into advisory classes with anti-juuling posters with the catchphrase “don’t be a fool, don’t juul” on them in hopes that younger students would take the advice of older students. In addition, administrators invited guest speaker Rob Holladay to speak about vaping to an assembly of all secondary students. Holladay focused his speech on the dangers of smoking and peer pressure.

“I think [the initiative] educated students, and the first step to fixing a problem is educating the public,” senior Harley Ramba said.

While the campaign achieved its goal of raising awareness of the issue on campus, many students believe that it fell short of effectively encouraging them to stop juuling. Some students even had a negative reaction, claiming that the school turned the serious problem into a joke.

“[The video] was made like a joke,” senior Malachi Burke said. “I think the [guest speaker] was more effective because the seniors didn’t take it seriously, so if the person you’re looking up to doesn’t, why would you?”

In recent years, e-cigarette use has increased dramatically, especially among young adults. According to the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 11.7 percent of high schoolers and 3.3 percent of middle schoolers admitted to using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days, compared to just 1.5 percent and 0.6 percent in 2011. These statistics have alarmed parents, who have demanded solutions from the government and assistance from schools to help put an end to their children’s early nicotine addictions. Although most high schoolers shouldn’t have access to these devices, underage students have found it easy to obtain e-cigarettes by getting older peers to purchase them or lying about their age online.

“The school can’t really do anything off-campus,” senior Harley Ramba said. “It’s down to the parents and the individual to make the right decisions.”

The most popular of these e-cigarettes among adolescents is the “juul,” which holds almost three-quarters of the e-cigarette market share, according to the Truth Initiative. The juul is a small e-cigarette shaped like a flashdrive. Disposable “pods” that contain juice are inserted into the device. Each pod contains 6 percent nicotine, which is roughly equal to a pack of cigarettes, or 200 cigarette puffs. They come in flavors such as mango, mint and creme brulee, which some critics of Juul have posited as a way to entice young people into purchasing their products. At the end of 2018, under the orders of now former FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb, the FDA cracked down on Juul and threatened to remove them from the market if they did not come up with a plan to reduce the number of minors using juuls. Since then, Juul has removed some of their more popular pod flavors from regular retail stores and offered pods with a lower nicotine content in an attempt to steer teenagers away. In an op-ed in the “Washington Post” entitled “Vape makers must do more to stop kids from using e-cigarettes,” new chief executive of Juul Kevin Burns wrote he believes the problem of teenagers using e-cigarettes “threatens the opportunity [the] industry provides.” He also wrote that Juul fully supports the removal of flavors that appeal to kids and raising the purchasing age of tobacco products to 21.

“[Juuling] is too dangerous to take the chance with your life,” Bailey said.

With the rise of the “juuling epidemic” among adolescents and its appearance on campus, administrators took steps this semester to decrease e-cigarette use. Students were shown an anti-juuling video and were informed by seniors of the dangers of using juuls. Bailey plans to do something similar next year.

“Our goal was to get anyone to quit, and we have caught way less students with it. Hopefully it’s because they quit, and not because they’re hiding it better,” Bailey said.