Tobacco Products Hit a New Low with E-Cigarettes that look like USB Flash Drives

Teachers are used to dealing with disruptions in the classroom – things like passing notes, using cell phones, talking out of turn, etc. Teachers now have a new one to worry about – JUUL e-cigarettes. This alarming upward trend of kids smoking e-cigarettes or “vaping” is occurring in middle schools, high schools and college campuses nationwide. This practice of inhaling through a vape pen can also be referred to as “JUULing,” named after a brand called JUUL, which make devices that are easily concealed.

Students could have these products in the classroom and discretely use them without the teacher even knowing. They are so small, they can be hidden in pens and highlighters and are often mistaken for USB flash drives. They can actually be charged on a laptop or computer.

These products comes in “kid friendly” flavors like cool mint, wild berry and mango. Flavoring these products has been a successful strategy in getting youth to use new tobacco products. In Wisconsin, 96% of middle schoolers say they probably wouldn’t try an e-cigarette – the most popular tobacco product among youth today – if it wasn’t flavored.

“Although much progress has been made in preventing cigarette use, electronic vapor products are the second most commonly used substance among Lincoln County youth,” says Judy Sargent, Public Health Nurse for Lincoln County Health Department and member of the Northwoods Tobacco Free Coalition. “Twenty-three percent of high school students reported using an electronic vapor product in the past 30 days and only 43% of students consider these products to be harmful. Much work is needed to educate our youth and encourage them to make healthy choices.”

The state recently launched a new campaign called the “Tobacco is Changing” to raise awareness of how candy flavors and deceptive packaging are successfully luring kids into a lifetime of addition. You can learn more about the “Tobacco is Changing” Campaign and local tobacco prevention efforts at tobaccochanging.com. For more information contact Judy Sargent, Public Health Nurse at 715-539-1377.

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