Efforts underway to stop vaping or juuling among teens in South Boston

BOSTON — The use of vaping devices among American teens has doubled in one year. That's from the FDA.

On the streets of Southie, Brooke Steadman says those teens are getting younger and younger.

"Really young, 11-14 year olds. That’s the audience that we’ve been targeting," Steadman said.

She and Noah White are part of a new initiative at the South Boston Community Health Center to try to stop vaping or juuling, the most popular form, before it begins.

“We promote this sense of prevention and this idea of prevention and stopping these kids from starting this," said White, who is 18.

Linda Doran, who oversees the program, says as smoking declined, vaping took off. And many kids don't realize e-cigarettes like Juul contain nicotine.

“70 percent of kids who use Juul don’t realize there’s nicotine in Juul. They think it’s a harmless puff of air," Doran said.

Health experts say flavors like "cool cucumber" and "fruit medley" entice kids.

"The flavors were marketed to kids and now we have a whole generation of addicted kids," Doran said.

Companies like Juul have responded. On its website, Juul says: "We did not create JUUL to undermine years of effective tobacco control."

“We are restricting the sales of flavored JUUL pods (Mango, Fruit, Cucumber, and Creme) and stopping their distribution to traditional retail outlets immediately," Juul says.

That was in February. But Doran said the damage is done, and that's why the health center launched its program.

“It’s a very long process getting off nicotine and it’s not an easy process," Doran said.

Comments on this article