Santa Clara’s Police Department (SCPD) is actively working to get the word out to parents about the increased use of electronic cigarettes by teens.
The department recently issued a press release encouraging parents to educate themselves about e-cigarettes. Ideally, it will spark a conversation between parents and teens about why e-cigarettes are harmful.
For its part, the department is offering Drug Awareness presentations to local schools and youth groups. According to the SCPD, “Across the United States, e-cigarette use has increased by 80 percent for high schoolers and 50 percent for middle schoolers over the last year.”
The real issue, the SCPD says, is that companies like JUUL have created devices that are small enough to fit in a closed fist and include flavors that are enticing to teens, like mint, mango and crème brulee.
“In just three years on the market, JUUL, a new type of e-cigarette has become so popular among young people it has amassed nearly half of the e-cigarette market share,” said the SCPD press release. “JUUL cartridges contain nicotine equal to two packs of cigarettes (or 200 cigarette puffs).”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also considers JUUL to be one of the worst offenders, but says all e-cigarettes can be harmful, especially to teens.
“In some cases, our kids are trying these products and liking them without even knowing they contain nicotine,” said an FDA press release. “We know the nicotine in these products can rewire an adolescent’s brain, leading to years of addiction.”
In California, a person must be at least 21 years old to purchase any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes. While a few states have laws that mirror California’s, no state allows the sale of tobacco to anyone under the age of 18.
To try and combat the sale of e-cigarettes to teens the FDA and a number of other government agencies have conducted sting operations at local tobacco retailers.
Thanks to a grant from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, the City of Sunnyvale was able to conduct a series of sting operations earlier this year.
Sunnyvale’s Crime Prevention Unit worked with the Sunnyvale Explorer Post 417 to catch retailers that are selling tobacco to underage shoppers. The Explorers visit an establishment and try to purchase tobacco or tobacco related paraphernalia.
The City says all 40 businesses that were inspected in the operations passed the test; however, one business employee was cited for selling to a “youth decoy.”
For more information about the dangers of e-cigarette use among teens, visit, www.flavorshookkids.org.
If you are a member of a school or youth group in Santa Clara and you would like to schedule a presentation, you can contact Community Service Officer Mike Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.