Tough rules on Juuls still have holes

Fake IDs, parent info used to buy e-cigs


Jessica Berton, Staff Writer

Vape pens are banned at Branham, but an untold number students use them every day. It may be easy to see why.

Juuls especially have a sleek design, are widely available and feature more than 300 colorful flavors to choose from. Though illegal to purchase by those under 21, many students, including some at school, are taking up vaping as a habit.

The Food and Drug Administration reports that since 2018, Juuling by high schoolers has increased by 78 percent, or about 3 million teens in the United States.

To combat youth tobacco and e-cigarette use, health center representatives and school members met in Fremont in mid-November, where they discussed the protection of the youth from nicotine addiction.

American Lung Association officials at the meeting, giving local leaders more control on tobacco retailers, such as bans and minimum pricing. Santa Clara County already has such ordinances in place since October 2016.

However, on a national scale, the Food and Drug Administration’s laws on sales of nicotine products have been criticized for being too lax and for allowing loopholes that minors can exploit.

However, many people are skeptical if new restrictions will work at schools.

Rick Hayashi, one of three assistant principals on campus who is in charge of student discipline, is one of these skeptics.

“Our schools are tobacco free zones anyway,” Hayashi said. “So even if someone was 19 as a senior and could legally have tobacco, they are not allowed.”

Students who vape also do not see the restrictions or discouraging them, or other minors, either.

A student who wishes to remain anonymous said that obtaining a Juul as a minor was “pretty easy” considering that they paid in cash and was not carded at the establishment.

“If people want something they would get it no matter what it is and I don’t think this is going to be an exception,” the student said, “But if people want it, they will find a way to get it.”

Another way for minors to get vape products is online. Increasing regulations on physical establishments may not be effective because minors can order these products and lie about their age.

Another student who vapes and wishes to remain anonymous uses this method.

“I get them online and use my father’s social [security number]. I have his permission, [my parents] know I use it,” the student said. “It’s way too easy for kids my age to buy this stuff online. Sometimes they don’t even check social, especially if you’re out of California.”

Some minors will just ask those who are over the age to buy products at stores or otherwise for them.

A third student, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that social media makes dealers more accessible.

“It’s the same way with buying alcohol, people will just ask people they know who are over the age,” the student said. “Or there are some stores who will say that they only sell to over age [people], but they’re going to bend the rules, especially if you’re chill about it.”

Students who are caught or reported vaping can face suspension at Branham. When they are caught, they have another option.

According to Hayashi, parents of students caught vaping can come to school to watch their kids and show them where they were caught. The purpose is to send a message to the kids that the parents will be involved as well.

“We are looking more in the bathrooms,” said Hayashi.  “We get calls from other students the students who just say ‘this is not a culture, environment or school I want to be at where vaping is rampant’ and report it and so it’s powerful when we hear from the kids.”