There's a new danger threatening our kids, and it can be so hard to detect, it could be happening right in front of you and you'd never even know it.
JUULing is a discreet way of vaping that's popular with teenagers. It's a phenomenon most parents haven't heard of, and it's taking place at schools, parties and maybe right in your own home.
The JUUL could be mistaken for a thumb drive, so parents and teachers may not even realize it's an e-cigarette.
Staff members at Clayton High Schools' newspaper, The Globe, set out to educate students and subscribers about the fad.
"People will charge them in their laptops," said staff advisor Erin Castellano. "They'll have them plugged into outlets in the hallway and nobody knows what they are."
That in-your-face behavior, hiding in plain sight, is just one reason senior Noah Brown thought raising awareness about JUULing was important.
"And kind of to see if the perception of what students think it is matches the reality of what experts think it is," explained Brown.
On JUUL's website, starter kits that include one rechargeable JUUL device, a four-pack of JUUL pods in different flavors and a USB charger run about $50. Each pod contains the same amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarettes.
Kathy Weiser, a prevention educator with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, says the nicotine is the problem.
"They don't see the health hazards that are possible with JUULing or vaping, and so they think it's not like 7,000 chemicals you find in traditional cigarettes," she explained. "They're really not understanding that there are some health consequences that are possible."
While smoking seems almost taboo to teenagers, vaping does not. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows e-cigarettes, like the JUUL, are now the most commonly used form of tobacco among teens.
A survey by The Globes' investigators found nearly 200 Clayton High students, nearly 21 percent of the student population, have used a JUUL.
Paz Labs, which manufactures the JUUL, calls it an alternative to cigarettes, stating on its website the product is for adult smokers.
"But what we found is just that the mere way it's marketed kind of inherently targets the teen population simultaneously," said Brown.
It's marketing that appears to be working.
"Nicotine is nicotine, in whatever form it's in, and if you're putting it in your brain, it's going to build that tolerance and build that addiction to it," said Weiser.
JUULing has become an issue for school districts across the country. Students at Ladue High School's newspaper have also reported on the trend.
JUULing or any type of vaping is not permitted at either school.
For more information about vaping from the NCADA, click here.