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Episode 2: Cereal Vapor

Get the 101 on teen-vaping and find out what signs to look for in teens that are a part of the dangerous trend.

Superintendent Anthony Godfrey is joined by Assistant Principal Stewart Hudnall who brings a variety of vaping devices into the studio and explains how and where kids are using them.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent Godfrey:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. This is the Jordan School District podcast designed to educate, inform, and hopefully entertain you. If it's something important to parents and students, we hope to feature it right here on the Supercast. And today, we are fortunate to have Stewart Hudnall with us. He's an Assistant Principal out at Herriman High School, and he's going to talk with us about a topic that has been hitting the news a lot lately and has really been taking off. That is the issue of vaping among teens. And he's brought quite an array of, I assume, confiscated materials here that he's going to talk us through. He's been giving presentations to parents to help them understand what to watch for and the impacts. And so, we're very glad to have you here.

Stewart:
Thank you. Happy to be here.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us about your journey and education so far.

Stewart:
I started at Riverton High School. I was a teacher there. I was a business teacher, business and marketing, taught digital media and graphic design, and some web design, financial. It loved it. My dad is an educator and he became an administrator. So I followed in his footsteps. And after a few years at Riverton, I made the jump to administrator and was placed at Herriman High School. This is the start of my third year.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Great. Well, it's great to have you tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you start to pursue more information about vaping?

Stewart:
Well, in the last couple of years, no pun intended, things have exploded with the vaping and the e-cigarettes and anything my students are doing. I'm interested in them, I like to connect with them. Unfortunately, in this regard, it's something illegal with vaping for the students. So every time I talked to some, I tried to learn a little bit more about what it was, what it meant, how it worked, what to look for, what they were seeing, what it smelled like, what it felt like. I tried to figure out everything I could from the students to determine what I could do to help them.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So tell us about what you learned from students about how they feel about vaping.

Stewart:
So for most of the kids, I actually had a few arguments with kids that said, "I wasn't smoking, I was vaping". There was a little bit of a disconnect for them, whether or not they were actually smoking or vaping. And we had that discussion. And in the end, in the eyes of the law, legally, it's the same thing. And so that discussion was had, but what I found out is, with most kids, almost without exception, when I peel back the layers, the reason why they were smoking is they're overwhelmed. They had anxiety, they were depressed. They had something that was going on in their life, oftentimes hard issues going on at home, but they didn't know how to cope with. And so it was a form of self-medicating. I had numerous students tell me, "Hudnall, when I see that smoke come out, it just relaxes me. It's an easy way for me to calm down. And sometimes there's nothing else out there that's going to calm me down as much as taking a hit".

Superintendent Godfrey:
So sometimes it's the process as much as the substance.

Stewart:
The scary thing is, they started because of the process. Nicotine is very addictive and the amount of nicotine varies so much, based on the juice, that they don't realize the amount of nicotine they're smoking, and sure enough, they get addicted to it. And so no longer is it just a coping mechanism. They're not just coping with it, but now they have to have it. They have to have that nicotine addiction.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So tell me, what are some of the impacts that you've seen on students from being addicted to vaping?

Stewart:
A lot of it can be educational. They're not able to focus in class. Kids are sneaking away. We're finding lots of kids smoking in the bathroom. In fact, the joke going around is we installed bathrooms in their vape rooms because to make that more convenient. Most assistant principals I've talked to in other schools say that's where they're finding most kids. They're going to be in the stall smoking. And so they've got to sneak away during class in order just to feel like they can function because the nicotine addiction is too high.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I did have a student when I was teaching in eighth grade, that was late to class. And I finally realized that it was because he needed to have a smoke before class because of the timing of my particular class. And he was sneaking behind a portable and taking care of that everyday. But with vaping maybe is it easier to you to vape indoors?

Stewart:
Absolutely. And that's part of where the struggle comes from. I think the reason why it's become so popular with kids, the stigma's gone. It's no longer that gross cigarette that they have to light. Historically, we could walk down the hall and we could smell the kid that smoked a cigarette because it's such a strong odor. Now it's a fruity smell. Now it's a smell that's going to be cotton candy, fruit, anything in between. And kids are actually even able to do it in class without the teacher realizing it because it's so easy.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So there really is more access, I guess, because vaping doesn't give itself away.

Stewart:
Yeah. In fact, a lot of times when I'll talk to kids, when they're in their cars, in the parking lot, they'll roll down the window. And that's how I can tell they've been smoking because it smells fruity. Most boys cars, when they rolled down the window, say it doesn't smell fruity, but when they roll it down and it smells fruity, I know something's usually going on.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So, now when the car smells good, there's a worry opposed to the way that you used to be able to detect it.

Stewart:
And I think most parents will agree, boys bedrooms, boys cars, they don't always smell the best. And so, when you get a really strong smell of that, we've told teachers in the classroom, it might be the girl putting on lotion, or it might be the kid behind her who took a puff while the teacher's back was turned.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So it does make it much more difficult.

Stewart:
Absolutely.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Given that it is more difficult to detect, and as an Assistant Principal myself years ago, I know that you end up learning a little bit about what kids do to disguise their negative behavior. Can you give any tips to parents about how you have seen kids disguise their devices or their vaping habits?

Stewart:
Well, because they're so small, they're really easy to hide. It's not like it's the big pack of cigarettes anymore. Our most popular device, we're finding, is called the Smoke Novo. And it is really small. It's not quite as skinny as the Juul that most people have out there, but with this tiny device, they're able to hide it really easily in their pocket, or in their hands. Parents aren't going to see that. The two biggest things that we tell parents to look out for is the smell ,because it's hard to hide the smell, and the second thing to look out for is the sound when they ask.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So what does it sound like?

Stewart:
Crackly sound? Um, it's hard to describe, but it's almost like electricity crackling.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Mr. Hudnall, can you give us a demonstration of hat sound?

Stewart:
Yeah, absolutely. This device I have here was actually confiscated from a student at the first hour of the first day of school. He was out in his car. We went out to check parking lots just to see how the law was doing, because we have a lot less kids this year and he was sitting there smoking. And so it actually has enough battery left in it. I can show you the sound.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Perhaps nervous about the first day of school?

Stewart:
Absolutely. And he actually said he's had this one for a year and a half. And so he was not really excited to part with it. It kind of was his favorite, but this is the sound. This is something they can't hide when we go in the bathrooms to do bathroom checks. This is another easy way to tell if the kid's smoking. You don't always see the cloud, but they can't hide the sound. So this is the sound.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And is that the sound just when they start it or throughout the time that they're vaping, you can hear it.

Stewart:
So, anytime that they're sucking on it. So typically what's happening is they're pushing that button to create the vapor and that's what they're sucking out. And so that's what's happening. That sound is happening while they're smoking it. Some devices don't have buttons. Those ones are draw activated, meaning that nothing happens until they put their mouth on it and suck on it. And so it's kind of always on.

Superintendent Godfrey:
But when they take a draw on it, then you don't hear the noise?

Stewart:
Yeah. You don't necessarily hear the sucking. You're going to hear that crackling sound. It's almost like electricity.

And I said sometimes it's hard to see the vapor. Is some vapor easier to see than others, because I know that I've seen folks vaping and it's almost like there's more of a cloud than there would have been had someone been smoking so big, does that vary by device? Or how does the big devices, the ones that will have two, three, four batteries in them, they'll actually use those at competitions as well because they're able to create a gigantic cloud and they like that cloud. But when I was talking to the students, I pulled down a couple of students I had busted and I said, "Help educate me a little bit about this. Why aren't kids using the big cool ones? Why are they using these little ones? "And he said, "Hudnall, the reason why they use the little ones is because they're just addicted to the nicotine."

It's not going to create that big cloud that they want. They can do really cool tricks with those clouds, with those small ones, but mostly, they just need the nicotine hit. It's really easy to hide. They'll blow it in their shirt. They'll keep it in their mouth. Kids have blown in their backpacks, in their sleeves and it just dissipates because it's vapor.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Hmm. Okay. So the device really determines whether there's going to be a big cloud or not.

Stewart:
Absolutely. And you can get plenty of nicotine into your system without a big cloud. If that's what you're shooting for, and the juices have different levels of nicotine. So juices will have three milligrams and some will have six milligrams. And, some will have 24 milligrams for the bottle. Some will even have 50 milligrams for the bottle.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're going to take a break and we'll come right back and talk a little bit more about vaping and some of the liquids used in vaping. Stay with us.

Sandra Reisgraf:
Do you want your child to live the best, healthiest, happiest life possible? The Jordan School District Health and Wellness Team wants to help make that happen. Visit wellness.jordandistrict.org for resources, and to get information on everything from mental and physical health and wellness to free counseling services for families. Remember, our JSD Health and Wellness Team is here to help. Join us and live your healthiest, happiest life possible.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're back with Assistant Principal Stewart Hudnall talking about vaping. He's an Assistant Principal at Herriman High School and has had more experience than he would have liked, I'm sure, taking devices off of various students. But to his great credit, has conversations with students to try to understand why they vape and how they vape, so that he has a better understanding of how to help, how to help students who are involved in this illegal behavior. You talked a little bit about the various ways that you have been able to identify that someone is vaping.

Stewart:
It's different from smoking. You could smell someone who smokes a long ways away. The cigarettes can only be stored in a few different ways because they're fairly fragile, whereas, you can easily stash a small vaping device.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What do you call it? I call it a vaping device.

Stewart:
I think it's a mod.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. So you can hide the mod pretty easily and the smoke will depend on the mod or the device that you're using. So can you just recap for us, if you're a parent and you want  to see whether your child is vaping, you listen for the sound, the crackling sound, the vapor, of course, the mod, which is a little device that can even look like a lighter when it's actually, like a USB stick.

Stewart:
Yeah. You have a few devices here in front of you that would be difficult to immediately identify as something illegal. Some of them have more flourish and flare, and that's a little bit obvious. But with others, it would be more difficult to tell.

And some of the kids love tricking out their mods. Like this one. I have a device here that has different customized pieces that the student has purchased, so they can actually spend quite a bit of money on it. They trick it out, kinda like they trick out a car. They can have specialty batteries, specialty tanks, specialty inhalers, specialty bodies. There's a lot of different options that they can mix and match to create it and kind of make it their own.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Do they take a rechargeable battery?

Stewart:
Yeah. So my favorite one is called a mag and it is just like a pistol grip on a gun. And the trigger to pull like on the gun is how they want the device activating property on the mod. But the reason why they call it a mag is, there's a button on there that will drop out the base, which looks just like a magazine for a gun. And so it just slides in and out.

So part of the procedure that you go through is kind of almost like a fidget spinner or something where you'll find kids fidgeting with them throughout the day.

It's something that they like to play with the smaller device. Like you said, it is harder to detect. They all have rechargeable batteries. I haven't seen one yet that doesn't have a rechargeable battery. In fact, the Juuls are what get the most media attention right now. But we actually aren't finding them at my school at all.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Why do you think that is? Is it that Juuls are more expensive?

Stewart:
The number one reason. And this is what I've talked to kids about. I asked him why aren't more kids, Juuling. And they said, it's because it's more expensive. The pod that goes on top that is filled with the juice is not refillable. It's a onetime use. When that pod is gone, they have to throw it away and buy a new one. Kids, being cheap as all high school kids, are not having a lot of disposable income. The Smoke Novo is their favorite. It's the smallest one is the cheapest one, but it also comes with a cartridge that's easy to refill. It has little rubber stopper on the side that they can pop out and then they just buy the juice and then they can fill it and reuse it as many times until the cotton inside is completely burned out.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So where do students buy these? Where are they able to get their hands on a device if it's illegal for students of that age to use?

Stewart:
So you and I, being of age, we can go into any gas station, and just about any gas station or smoke shops are going to have all of these.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, you just answered my question. They shoplift them in convenience stores, right?

Stewart:
Most of the time ,though it is behind the desk. And so most kids I've talked to say there's a couple ways. One is they have a friend that has a cousin that's of age that buys it and sells it to them. Usually it's someone that they know that old enough to buy it, and then they sell it to them. Second is Amazon or eBay, because they're not checking ages when they buy it. So they're able to purchase it on the internet and get it shipped to them directly.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So. your Prime membership can get you a mod, next day, or if it's no rush shipping, you get a dollar credit on various digital items as well.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, that is remarkable. So we've talked about the devices and it really is amazing the array of devices. It's not like you see a cigarette and you know what it is. This is something that you'd have to keep on top of in order to be aware of the device. I guess if there's something plugged into the wall at night that doesn't look like a phone, then ask yourself some questions about what that device might be.

Stewart
Yeah. I had one kid actually charging his Juul on the Chromebook at school. The teacher emailed me and said, "Hey, I know we just talked about this. I think this kid might have e-cigarettes. Can you come up and check?" And I walked up and sure enough, it was plugged into the side of the Chromebook and charging in the middle of class.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That is relying on the ignorance of adults in a serious way. And it can work sometimes. But fortunately, the teacher in question had been trained and knew what to watch for. That's part of what's scary about this is that it's very dangerous for kids at that age. It's illegal, on top of that, but it's very difficult to detect and easy to get. So, parents need to be vigilant. Tell me about the liquids that are used. Is there ever an argument from a kid, and I honestly don't know enough about vaping to even know if this question makes sense, but is there ever an argument from a kid? Well, I'm just vaping  X or Y that isn't an illegal substance. Is there any type of vaping, depending on what you put in there, that could be legal.

Stewart:
There's a couple arguments. Kids will have one built by Juul that has no nicotine. They call it Nick.

Superintendent Godfrey:
No. Nick in the mod. In the juice. Yes. Okay.

Stewart:
So they'll say, well, there's no Nick in it. And I have to explain to them the nicotine part isn't necessarily what makes it illegal for them to have it, right? It's the smoking in general. And that's what the discussion is. But in the end, they are taking a juice of vapor, a hot vapor in their lungs that has, they don't know what's in it, because it's not really regulated. And so they're not sure what different chemicals are found in it. And they're taking that in their lungs and then expelling it. The second one is CBD oil, which we can go to GoodEarth and buy today. You can go to a smoke shop and buy CBD. It's a part of the marijuana plants, but it's the medicinal parts, right? And so kids are smoking that same, but Hudnell, it's not illegal for CBD.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So CBD, THC, what else?

Stewart:
Those are the two big ones.

Stewart:
So we hear about CBD and THC almost exclusively.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And do they claim, so if they claim that there's something else in there, there's no THC, there's no CBD.

Stewart:
Then the argument is still that you can't vape period, regardless of the substance? And technically, even in the eyes of the law, it's paraphernalia. And so they can't have the device to smoke, even if they don't have any juice on them, it's actually illegal for them to have the device period, because it's for something that is illegal for them to do.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. That does make sense. It's paraphernalia in the traditional sense.

Stewart:
Absolutely.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So, I have to ask about this that you brought here. All of the liquids look quite attractive. It's a candy shop, it's bursting with fruit flavor and it's very attractive. The devices themselves are intriguing. And I have to say, I am a lucky charms fan, and here's this little box of cereal carts, I guess, is the brand of THC, 85% to 90% THC.

Stewart:
Yeah. So this is where we get into the really scary stuff. It's scary enough to begin with because nicotine is so addicting, especially for a young kid to be addicted at such a young age. It really breaks my heart to have those discussions with parents about Nicorette gum, nicotine patches, what their kid can do to get through a whole school day without having nicotine. We've had those conversations before. But when we start talking about the THC, that's where we move into the definitely illegal realm. It's illegal for anybody at this point. And they're marketing it specifically to kids in the younger generation because they have things called cereal carts that are flavored after our favorite cereals. So I'll ask the kids when I have these presentation, what's your favorite cereal. They throw out all these names and just about every cereal they throw out, they can find a flavor for that.

THC. The scary part is what they do as they process the marijuana plant so that it's basically straight THC in that juice. They're smoking the marijuana of our day. Back in the day in the 19 hundreds, marijuana was about 5% to 15% THC. This stuff is processed down to where it's 85% to 90% THC. So the amount of THC their body is taking in is astronomical compared to what it would have been back in the day.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So what are some of the cereals, they have Cinnamon Toast Crunch?

Stewart:
Absolutely. If you just do an easy search online of cereal carts, you can find people that are willing and ready to sell it to you. Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Frankenberry, Captain Crunch, Blueberry Trix, Honeynut Cheerios, Apple Jacks, CaptainCrunch.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh, wow. All your favorite flavors. So even a little box that looks like it has a prize in a cereal box is actually THC oil. Is that what you would call juice or is it liquid? What's the terminology? What would the kids call it?

Stewart:
Well, they just call it Dab, Carts, Dab Carts. So dab, that's when they distill it down, when they process it down and it's a waxy substance, so kids will actually still smoke that in like a pipe or some other way. This has now become the oil. So the Deb Carts is the next iteration of that. It can screw on just about any mod or e-cigarettes in one of those little vials. It has a gram of marijuana in it, and it goes for about $30 to $40 street value. I did find one kid that bought them for $25, which makes me a little nervous where he's getting it because that's really cheap. Most are going for about $30 to $40 while in Dab Carts.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And how long do the Dab Carts last?

Stewart:
It depends on the kid. It's kind of like asking a smoker. How long is that package of cigarettes going to last you? A kid we talked to just last week, said the Dab Cart lasts less than one day when he has it. He sees it that often.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Wow. It's kind of like chain smoking at that point. So the more extreme habits that you've seen could cost hundreds per week.

Stewart:
I sat down with him and bless his heart, he had the conversation with me. I said, "Help me understand that. I'm doing the math and that's like $750 a month. Are you doing a Dab Cart a day? He says, "I don't know. I can't afford that." He says, "But I'm doing about two or three a week". So that's $50 to $75 a week that he's smoking. Multiply that by four and he's using his allowance for his, where he says he gets his money.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. Well, very unsettling, very troubling, but great information to help us try to combat this growing problem. We're going to take a break and we'll be right back with some final tips from Mr. Stuart huddle from airman high school, stick with us.

Sandra Reisgraf:
Do you want to know what's going on in Jordan School District? Maybe see your child or a friend featured in a school story. Check out our website at jordandistrict.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at Jordan District. Let's connect today.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Alright. And we're back with Stuart Hudnall, Assistant Principal here in Jordan School District. He works at Herriman High School, as we mentioned, but this is a problem at all high schools nationwide to varying degrees, and even with younger and younger students all the time. Have you seen this with younger students as well or heard about that?

Stewart:
Yeah, as I've gone around and done presentations, I've had parents and administrators at elementary level. Even down to fourth grade where a kid has had an e-cigarette or a mod on them.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah. It's scary. The way it's attractive and brightly colored and fruit flavored. And it really makes it seem innocuous when it's dangerous and illegal. Can you summarize for us, just come up with some of your final tips for parents to be on the lookout, what to watch for, and then maybe some tips to students about the negatives that you've heard from students themselves that would maybe be a deterrent to students trying this in the first place?

Stewart:
Sure.With parents, obviously, you know, your kids best, any change in behavior can be a concern, keep an eye on them. Spending long times alone, they're going into their room to smoke. That's where a lot of kids are going to do it. And so with that in mind, what does the room smell like when you go in? Is there a fruity smell? Is there a cotton candy smell? Is there something going on in the room or behind the house that seems a little bit different. Keeping an eye out for that. Okay, sound wise as well. If you're hearing a crackling of current, then pretty sure that's going to be your e-cigarette.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. You have faulty wiring in your house. Hopefully it's e-cigarette. It's not a good sound either way.

Stewart:
No, it's not. And it is a scary sound. And then, have those conversations with your kids. Research has shown time and time again, that the biggest deterrent for drug use is parents. And those conversations being open and honest with your kid, have that discussion, ask them about it because I guarantee they've seen kids do it or they know kids that do it. See what their take is on it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Great tips. Now tell us, if there's a student listening, who's thought about trying this or has started? Tell me some of the ill effects that you've seen that would maybe act as deterrent.

Stewart:
Sure to that. My first thing for the kid is just remember, there's hope. It doesn't matter how deep you feel, like you're in the hole with the e-cigarette and there's no way out. And if you're using it as a coping mechanism, reach out for help. Talk to your administrators, talk to your assistant principal, talk to your counselors. There's other coping mechanisms out there that can help. And we have seen success with kids who have had a serious addiction with nicotine,  to help wean themselves off, be completely nicotine free and find other ways to cope with what's going on because we all have hard things going on in our life, but know that we're here to help and we're here to support however we can. We're not coming from a judgmental side.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. Great advice. So seek help. There's someone to listen and as parents, keep an eye out so that we can help give the support that we need and always let the school know how we can help.

Stewart:
Yeah. In fact, the Cereal Cart that we have, it was a mom who brought it in. After I did a parent presentation, she found it. I'd never heard of it up to that point. And she said, "Hey, I thought you might be interested in this". She was nervous bringing it in, but it was a great conversation we had and really opened her eyes to some new stuff.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, I really appreciate you coming by. Things move so fast, it's easy to lose touch, and not be as up-to-date as we think we are. So thank you very much.

Now this has been a heavy topic. It's been really helpful and very informative, but we end all of our podcasts with Two Truths and a Lie. It's your chance to lie to the Superintendent. So, despite the heavy topic, let's end on a lighter note. Mr. Hudnall, can you tell me two truths and a lie? Let's see how my lie detectors working today. I want to put on the poker face. All right. You ready?

Stewart:
I've recently been hit in the face. I recently completed an Ironman Triathlon and I've never smoked.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Hmm. Let's see. Number three is the lie, never smoked.

Stewart:
Yeah. False.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh see, because I thought getting punched in the face and running a triathlon, kind of went together because you are a glutton for pain and punishment if you do a Triathlon. So certainly a punch in the face is really nothing. You were not recently punched in the face?

Stewart:
I was recently punched in the face.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So maybe the most positive thing in all is the lie.

Stewart:
I have not done an Ironman Triathlon.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. Well, see, it's a compliment that I thought that was the truth.

Stewart:
Now to clarify, I do some boxing sparring at a local gym. And so that's where the punch in the face came.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Oh, so it wasn't on purpose punch in the face. I mean, you try not to get hit in the face when you box, well, not on purpose. You knew that was perhaps part of the bargain. I see so many layers to peel back on this particular Two Truths and a Lie. It's been a pleasure. Thank you very much for being with us, Mr. Hudnall. And remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. See out there.

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