(CBS) — E-cigarettes are a new nicotine threat at school that could be creating a future generation of smokers.
Vaping devices are so small now, they are easy for kids to conceal. As CBS 2’s Erin Kennedy reports, districts are cracking down and warning parents.
All across the country, young people post about it on YouTube from their bedrooms – and from their classrooms.
“I don’t think parents know much or anything about it,” says teen Mike Davis.
He and some of his peers in Downers Grove high schools. They have pledged to be alcohol-, drug- and tobacco-free. But some of their classmates haven’t.
“Students have definitely been trying to get away with it during class, in the restroom, in the hallway,” says student assistance coordinator Diana Benoist. “These are some of the devices and accessories that we’ve confiscated from students.”
District 99 school assistance coordinators have seen a significant increase in nicotine use thru E-cigs this school year.
“There have been weeks where we’ve had two or three violations,” Benoist says.
Adds Keith Bullock: “We’ve talked to some of our middle-school social workers that have seen increases from their 7th and 8th grades as well.”
They say the high-tech gadgetry is appealing. Some devices look like flash drives and recharge plugged into a laptop.
The devices are smaller and easier to hide, and it seems less like smoking real cigarettes.
“It’s not as smelly, or it’s marketed with fruity flavors or sweet dessert-type flavors,” Bullock says.
But many of the sweet liquids still contain nicotine. One of the most popular brands now, Juul, says on its website the amount of nicotine in one pod is equal to a pack of cigarettes.
A 2016 Surgeon General’s report found nicotine exposure during adolescence can be addicting and can lead to the use of traditional cigarettes and drugs like marijuana.
Downers Grove and other school districts are trying to help inform parents about this new trend by sending out emails and holding meetings.
Students who’ve skipped the e-cig trend are trying to help their classmates make wiser choices.
“You don’t need this to look cool,” student Sarah Ansah says.
School counselors say kids are getting the devices and pods from older friends and relatives or buying them online.
On its website, Juul says the minimum age to purchase its products is 21. It calls underage use a persistent problem and is using ID match and age verification technology to combat that.