HOUSTON - - “Shelly” kicked her smoking habit a few years ago.
“I smoked for almost 18 years, if not longer, and it took me a long time to get off of it.”
It was a huge feat.
Now, this northwest Houston mom says she has an even bigger problem on her hands.
“My concern is he's getting more and more addicted to this nicotine.”
The person she referred to is her 15-year-old son.
She recently found out he’s vaping in their home.
“I'd walk into the hallway and (I'd) smell it," she said. "It smells like Fruit Loops...and I'm like, ‘Why does it smell like Fruit Loops?’”
Her real name is not being used because she doesn’t want her son to be identified.
But, she said she has a serious message to share with other parents because she claims her son is not just vaping at home. She said he’s doing it with his peers at his Cy-Fair ISD High School.
Vaping isn’t new.
By definition, it’s the inhaling and exhaling of the vapor produced by electronic cigarettes and devices, which some adults have used to quit smoking cigarettes.
But vaping has now become a topic of national discussion because of a little device called the Juul. Use of the Juul has prompted the term “Juuling” after many teens began using it.
Dr. Joseph Rosen is a pediatric pulmonologist on staff at The Woman's Hospital of Texas – an HCA facility.
“It's becoming very popular with teenagers because of its small size," Rosen said. "The flavors that they use, including crème brulee, mango and fruit. The Juul also has nicotine just like other e-cigarettes but it has twice as much nicotine.The high level of nicotine in the Juul creates a much higher risk for addiction in the teens that use it.”
A representative with the Juul brand said the company is working with the FDA to make sure its product doesn’t end up in the hands of underage teens.
She also reiterates the device was “created to help enable current adult smokers transition from combustible cigarettes. The product is not for minors, nor is it for non-nicotine users.”
JUUL LABS STRATEGY
But it’s not just the Juul device parents have to be on the lookout for.
E-cigarette devices come in all shapes and sizes, while juices come in different of flavors—mostly fruity.
“E-cigarettes are supposed to be marketed towards adults but with flavors like mango or fruit or creme brulee, they become very appealing to kids,” warned Rosen.
The FDA and FTC are working to crack down on these e-liquids.
The agencies recently issued warning statements to 13 manufacturers about labeling nicotine-containing e-liquids as kid friendly food products, such as these--made to resemble juice boxes and other popular items.
FDA WARNING LETTERS
Eighteen-year-old “Bob,” whose identity we’ve concealed, has been vaping for several years.
“One of my friends had one,” he said.
The juice he uses in his vape mod device contains 50 milligrams of nicotine- the highest level we’ve found.
“You get a lot more like, like it hits you faster if you hit 50," he said. "It hits you in the, more in the throat.”
It also takes a harder toll on your body. “Bob” calls it “nic-sick.”
“I've been nic-sick once," he said. "Nic-sick is like...knots up in your stomach, you puke. You feel horrible afterwards. It feels like you don't want to do anything. Eat. You don't want to eat anything."
He claims he’s seen students at his high school get sick from vaping as well.
“And a lot of these younger kids, I know it affects them," he said. "And I've seen kids passed out from 50 (milligrams of nicotine) in the bathroom at school."
“Jane," also 18, started vaping recently.
“My boyfriend gave me this one," she said. "I've been using it for a month. Pretty often.”
She hits 3 percent nicotine and feels she can stop anytime.
“I don't really get addicted to things," she said. "I think I'd be like OK if people tell me to get off of it. "I think I'd be really OK with getting off of it.”
But Rosen warns vaping is highly addictive and can leave lasting effects from the chemicals combined with the nicotine.
“There is scarring in the lungs, the airways themselves actually become wider than they normally are," he said. "This makes it very difficult to clear out any airway mucus, so it can build up and lead to more damage or pneumonia.”
“Shelly” said her son is vaping away from home too.
She now tests him for nicotine when he gets home.
“He's getting it from school," she said. "There's no other logical thing. I literally search him the moment he walks in the door. It's rampant. It's an epidemic.”
And she warns other parents to be on the lookout too.
“It's the smell," she said. "Just start noticing the smell.”
We reached out to Cy-Fair ISD regarding “Shelly’s” claims that her son and other teens are vaping at their high school. We received a letter stating the district’s administrators are working to address the threat of e-cigarettes on each campus.
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