JUULs in Schools?

NUHS grapples with problems surrounding the vaping craze.


A new occurrence has become common here at NUHS. Rumors have been flying about students being caught having and using JUULs in school. A JUUL is a small vape that has become very popular among High School and Middle School students. Students will use these vapes in school and one of the most popular places is the school bathroom. One small JUUL pod contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. The increase in kids vaping has prompted the administration to respond.

Vaping as a whole is an ever-growing problem. In September of 2018 the Surgeon General issued a national advisory regarding e-cigarettes and their dangers. In the surgeon general’s warning he declared teen vaping an epidemic, and singled out JUUL, pointing out their hold on the e-cigarette market. In order for an issue to be an epidemic, it has to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at a time. According to the Surgeon General e-cigarettes entered the U.S. marketplace around 2007, and since 2014, they have been the most commonly used tobacco product among today’s youth. In the last year , e-cigarette use increased 78% among high school students. As of 2018, more than 3.6 million U.S youth, including 1 in 5 high school students, and 1 in 20 middle school students, currently use e-cigarettes.

The administration here at New Ulm high school is constantly working to inform and educate the staff on e-cigarettes and the use of tobacco products as a whole. Mark Bergman, principal at NUHS, said, “We have had different meetings where the county comes in and presents on JUULs and other nicotine delivery devices; we have also had our school resource officer give similar presentations.” Mr. Bergman said, “If we can educate teachers to have the knowledge on the effects of using these devices, those teachers could deter students from using the devices.” Mr. Bergman and Mr. Guentzel both constantly expressed that the administration is not necessarily looking to get students in trouble, but more looking to help the students.

New Ulm is not the only place experiencing issues with JUULs and other nicotine delivery devices. Mr. Bergman said, “Some schools experience this issue, and some do not. It seems that surrounding schools experience the same issues we do when it comes to these devices. However, I have also talked to a teacher who had no clue what these devices are.”  The most common place people are using these devices seems to be in the school’s bathrooms. Since this is an ever-growing problem, companies have taken advantage of the issue, with various vape detection devices now in the market. We asked assistant principal Mr. Guentzel  and Mr. Bergman if they had ever considered investing in any of these devices. Mr. Guentzel said, “Mr. Bergman and I love to do our research. With that being said, we haven’t looked into anything specific, but if we did, we would have to consider the research behind it and how effective it is.”

Mr. Bergmann and Mr. Guentzel explained the procedure to us of what happens to a student if they are caught with a JUUL in school. “If a student is caught with a JUUL in school they are going to be suspended because this is the same as if a student brings tobacco into the school.” They told us that if you are caught distributing JUULs then it will lead to expulsion since it is no different from selling drugs and most of the time the person is selling to a minor.  They also said that if they hear a something about a kid with a JUUL in the building, that kid is called down to the office and they search them for a JUUL. The next step after that is a locker search and then it goes to a car search. Mr. Guentzel and Mr. Bergmann both agreed that the way most kids have gotten caught was other students turning kids in because they do not want to be accused of vaping and some kids are sick of this happening. They want the students to know that there are consequences for bringing a JUUL into the school because that is not the type of school that they want.

Another question we asked them was what would happen to a student when a video of that student is sent to the office of them vaping outside of school. Mr. Guentzel said, “Whether or not the student is in any sports they will receive a chemical violation.” This means that the student will be banned from any extra-curricular activity for a number of weeks or events. These chemical violations will affect students who are in any sports or other school clubs or organizations such as FFA and FCCLA. Even if students are of age, they will still receive a chemical violation for usage.

Students who are 18 will still face the same consequences as any other student who brings a JUUL into the school or on school property. They are still violating the no drugs or alcohol ban that the school has so they will still face a suspension for bringing a JUUL to the school. 18 year olds also can face another problem as younger kids may ask them to buy them a JUUL or let them borrow their own, but if the school finds out about the student who is providing a vape to a younger student, that student could face expulsion. “Students who are providing other students with a vape are the same as drug dealers providing something to a student who can’t get it themselves,” Mr. Bergmann said.