DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Decatur City School students spent the morning campaigning throughout the city. They’re advocating to reduce e-cigarette and specifically Juul smoking.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports that more than 3.5 million high school and middle school kids are juuling. Decatur High School sophomore Sierra Welch says kids have been juuling in class and getting in trouble for it.
“People we know getting k’s and stuff for juuling in the bathroom, and they’ll sit there and they’ll do it in the middle of class and they’ll like... so that you can’t see them blow their smoke out," Welch said.
The Director of State Communications for the Tobacco-Free Campaign, John Schachter, says big tobacco companies are targeting young kids with fruity flavors, and it’s working.
“We are facing a serious epidemic of e cigarette use in the United States. Last year alone, e-cigarette use increased by 78 percent," Schachter continued.
Welch tells WAFF 48 News advocating for not smoking is important to her because it’s had an impact on her personal life.
“Everybody on my dad’s side of my family smokes. A big part of my mom’s side of my family smokes and it’s just ruined a lot of people’s lives. I care about the people, I might not know you, but I care about you. I’d rather not see these people ruin their lives over something this silly,” Welch said.
Schachter said the campaign for tobacco-free kids has slowed down cigarette use, but with the launch of e-cigarettes, he says it’s becoming an epidemic.
“It’s the extent of the addiction that we’re seeing and hearing about in schools and in homes, it’s just unfathomable. Because we don’t have a long track record with these products, we don’t know all the long term harms and we’re gonna learn more and more, but again our kids should not be the guinea pigs in this experiment,” Schachter explained.
An addiction that's continuing and growing, but so is the awareness.
Decatur High School sophomore Jamar Echols also advocates for kids and teens to stop using e-cigarettes and Juuls. He said most kids don’t even know what they’re putting into their bodies.
“Most people believe that juuling is water, and in fact, it’s not. It’s still nicotine, and it’s just as bad if not worse than inhaling cigarettes. I think that just spreads the word even more and that it’s good to have on people’s minds,” Echols continued.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says they’re working hard to get the FDA to stop the manufacturing of flavored e-cigarettes. For now, they’re working at the state and local level to slow this down.
For more information on the Campaign for Tobacco-Free kids, click here.
If you’re curious about e-cigarette or Juul use in your area, click here.