Understanding the Risks of Vaping to Students in Acton and Boxborough

Vaping or one of its popular known brands “Juul” is the most commonly used tobacco product in Jr. High and High School. The older students continuously have training and discussions, but as SRO’s (School Resource Officers) we added it to our 6th grade safety curriculum over the last two years. “In year one I’d say about a quarter of each class knew what it was, now I have seen nearly 100% of the 6th grade raise their hand when asked "if they have heard about it”.

Tobacco and nicotine were already integrated in the program. The district had done a great job with effective preventative measures over the last decade. Teaching about cigarettes was once a shorter presentation than alcohol. When vaping came on-scene, we had to add an extra class on the topic alone. With so much misinformation online, local SRO’s contacted JUUL headquarters in California and invited them here for a presentation. Their twist on marketing strategies were well rehearsed, but when asked about long term side effects, we were left with “Not enough data” as an answer. We took that message to heart and tell our students, “You are their test subjects, all their products contain nicotine and chemicals known to cause lung damage, and it’s up to you guys to end the test.”

We’ve asked our students to make the difference and become informed on the topic. We explain that 1 pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes (20), that the teen brain is more susceptible to addiction, and that the Police/School are here as a support system if they are struggling with any kind of addiction. The overall message is that the product was designed as a nicotine delivery device to aid people wanting to stop smoking, not start it.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please reach out to one of our SRO’s at 978.929.7711.

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