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Increased popularity in vaping prompts action from schools

Date: 5/24/2019

AGAWAM – In 2017 a new product hit the markets called JUULs. By the end of 2017, JUULs were the most popular and preferred type of e-cigarette. With a variety of fruity flavors along with a convenient, portable style, JUULs have become a common place item with the younger generation.

Using JUULs falls under the category of vaping. Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette, or JUUL. The term “vaping”  is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, they produce an aerosol. This aerosol is commonly mistaken for a water-vapor but the reality is, that there are harmful particles in the aerosol that is being ingested.

Vaping devices, like JUULs, are constructed with a mouthpiece, a cartridge containing the e-cigarette juice, and a heating component that is powered by a battery. The action of heating up the e-cigarette juice turns the liquid into an aerosol which is inhaled and exhaled.

The fear of JUULs, is that this nationwide phenomenon and obsession is now putting the younger generation at risk of nicotine dependence in a new, upgraded way, rather than the traditional cigarette.  

This new fad has forced middle schools and high schools across the country to not only implement strict policies but also to help educate parents about the dangers of JUULs and other vaping devices. Agawam Public School system is no different as they move forward in their efforts to tackle this issue.    

Health teachers in the Agawam school systems are taking steps in the right direction in order to educate themselves about e-cigarettes to properly address this issue in the curriculum. An idea that was presented as these teachers were educating themselves was the possibility of a former student creating a video to not only educate the students, but adults as well.

“We felt that hearing this message from a young adult who also has experimented with vaping would be an effective way to get across to students,” said Superintendent Steve Lemanski.

The video was produced by Jake Weiners, who is now a current student at The University of Hartford for Filmography. Weiners has also done other work for the DA’s office which has won him awards in film making.

The video opens with the faces of young students as they present the fact that they know twelve-year-olds who now use JUUls. The video continues forward with asking the student, “why do you think kids JUUL/vape?” The answers from the student are mainly concerning peer pressure and “looking cool.”

Weiners reveals by the end of the video how expensive this habit can be, especially as the body builds up a tolerance for it and starts to crave it more often.

“It’s $16 or $17 for a pack of pods and I think in the last six months I’ve gone through 20 or 30 packs,” said Weiners.

The video reveals that that would be a $520 expense for six months.

Lemanski shared with The Reminder that they are mainly struggling to address this issue as it occurs during the school day because JUULs are primarily being used in the bathrooms, which is difficult to monitor.

To start taking steps forward, they have installed devices in the bathrooms to detect the vape in the air.

The JUULs are made of metal so hand held metal detecting wands are also being used to confiscate the JUULs.

The school system is doing everything they can to educate students on the dangers of using a JUUL or other e-cigarette but they also are trying to help to educate the parents who do not fully understand the dangers that surround their children with using nicotine products.

“Parents need to get the knowledge about this,” said Lemanski. “And the schools can help. We are trying to do all we can to get information out there to our community.”

To watch the video created by Weiners, it can be found under