New generation of e-cigarettes enters hallways of Albemarle High School

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A new form of electronic cigarettes is becoming popular in the hallways and classrooms of Albemarle High School.

Jesse Turner, principal of Albemarle High School, said the first time he noticed the trend was when a teacher caught a student smoking an e-cigarette in class.

"First time, actually, I had a student smoking one in class," said Turner. "Then it went to the bathrooms, we'd catch students in the bathroom."

When school officials noticed more students vaping in school, they sent out a letter to parents to warn them of the health risks associated with vaping and a new e-cigarette called JUUL.

JUUL is the newest version of an e-cigarette that can pass as a USB drive. Each JUUL device contains a pod that can come in thousands of flavors, making it more attractive to young adults.

Neely Dahl, tobacco treatment specialist at the University of Virginia Cancer Center, said she's heard stories of students plugging in their JUUL devices into their laptops to sneak them into class.

"I'm hearing stories that kids are actually putting it in their socks, people are putting it down their shirts and their coats," she said.

One of the main reasons Dahl said the JUUL device is attractive to teenagers is because it's easy to hide and doesn't give off a large vapor cloud.

"They don't give off a large plume of aerosol or vapor cloud," said Dahl. "A lot of people can use these anywhere and everywhere and people are not knowing they are being used."

Although the JUUL can be easily concealed, Dahl said it can't hide the dangerous health risks associated with smoking.

One pod from the JUUL has the same amount of nicotine from a pack of cigarettes, which Dahl said can lead to future health problems.

"The additives that are in e-juices are toxic to our blood vessels which can cause long-term problems in our cardiovascular system down the road," said Dahl.

She also said the JUUL can lead to nicotine dependence, which can affect brain development in young adults.

"Once you have repeated use of nicotine, our brain chemistry is changing," she said. "The repeated use actually primes our brain for possible substance abuse disorders in the long term."

Considering the health risks involved with the JUULs, Turner said their focus now is on educating students of those dangers.

Albemarle High School is starting a new program called STEP, which aims to change student behavior and influence young adults to make the right decision for their bodies.

"They come to school, they're not going to be suspended for certain offenses. I want to deal with having a place and a system for addressing students who choose to use an e-vape in school," said Turner. "We want to focus on addressing the behavior so we can try and have them change it."

Although there are JUUL pods that are advertised without nicotine, Dahl said studies have shown that they still carry small traces of nicotine.

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