Nicotine use by way of e-cigs increasing among teens in Bexar County

By Patty Santos - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District is concerned that nicotine use by way of e-cigarettes is increasing for the first time in years among teens.

"Juuling" is the new trend that officials with school districts in the area said they have not had a problem with, but Colleen Bridger, director of Metro Health, said the districts may not be seeing it yet because students may be doing it in secret.

“When we talk to teens, they talk about sitting in classrooms and having people vape in the classroom,” she said. “It’s not a criticism of the teacher or school system. There’s no way to know someone is doing that because the vapor is much less noticeable.”

Bridger said manufacturers are enticing teens with the packaging and flavors.  

“No one will know this is an e-cigarette because it looks just like a jump drive,” she said.

Juul is a brand, but similar devices by other names are now on the market. KSAT reached out to Juul for a comment but the company has not responded.

On Juul's website, the company says "We share public health concerns about cigarettes; in fact, they constitute our company's mission ... and we do not want to see a new generation of smokers."

FAST FACTS:

  • E-cigarettes are the most popular nicotine products used by youth, with 81 percent of youngsters starting off with a flavored e-cig, according to Metro Health.

  • In Bexar County, 12.6 percent of male high school students use tobacco, while only 9.9 percent of female students use it, Metro Health said.

  • Metro Health said for the first time in decades, overall tobacco use has increased among high school students.

  • E-cig use by youth exceeds the use of cigarettes and other tobacco products, experts say.

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