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.