When Savas Karas found out about a new trend hitting the halls of schools in Baltimore County.
He had a stern talk with his three girls.
“Don’t hold one. Don’t touch one. Don’t smoke one. Don’t do anything. You don’t know what’s in it and, secondly, you’re smoking a cigarette. You may not feel like you’re smoking a cigarette, but you are in fact, smoking a cigarette,” Karas said.
Karas is the vice president of Hereford High School’s PTSA.
The latest topic – a popular brand of e-cigarette called ‘Juul.’
“What’s interesting to me is you don’t ever hear about students smoking anymore, but you do hear about students vaping and what I don’t believe the students always know is they are, typically, consuming nicotine,” Karas said.
The odorless, sometimes vapor-less, drug is concealed in one of the more inconspicuous ways – most products appear to look like flash drives.
“When you make a device that actually looks like it’s kid-friendly that has flavors like mango and watermelon, you’re not trying to get an adult to smoke this, you’re really trying to get – a child,” Dr. Gregory Branch, the director of health and human services for the Baltimore County Health Department, said.
Branch says the nicotine in ‘Juul’ products can stunt adolescent development and become a gateway drug.
“The underlying piece to a cigarette is nicotine and nicotine is extraordinarily addictive. Why would we want to have any of our children addicted to anything,” Branch asked rhetorically.
The company’s website outlines a strategy at fighting back against underage use.
Still, Karas is concerned once in the wrong hands…the outcome of ‘juuling’ could be a lot worse.
“The second big thing is how easy it is to tamper with one of the Juul pods and put any different liquid in that Juul pod to be consumed that you would want to put in that Juul pod,” Karas said.
Baltimore County Schools have a zero-tolerance drug policy.
The district says they’re fully supportive of parents taking the lead on making sure this drug stays out of their children’s schools.