WASHINGTON - As e-cigarettes gain in popularity, schools in the D.C. area are having more and more trouble with students using them, sometimes right in the middle of class.
Juul has become especially popular with teenagers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced this week it is cracking down on the electronic cigarette maker by launching an investigation into whether the company intentionally marketed their products to teenagers.
Meanwhile, schools are just trying to keep Juul-brand e-cigarettes out of the hands of students. Jenny Sexton, the substance abuse counselor at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, said vaping has become a major problem at her school this year.
"What we are seeing is students actually using them right in class," Sexton said.
Although there is plenty of nicotine in Juul products with flavors like creme brûlee and fruit medley. The smoke smells like air freshener and it quickly clears away.
"So they can use it when the teacher has got their back to the class," Sexton said. "The teacher can turn around and there is really no evidence that they just had taken a puff of the Juul."
At nearby Yorktown High School, the main doors were taken off the bathrooms to prevent vaping and other bad behavior. Fairfax County Public Schools created an informational video for parents about "Juuling."
On Wednesday, Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland sent a letter to parents imploring them to talk to their kids about Juuling, which was described as a "serious issue that appears to be presenting an increasing challenge in our middle and high schools."
FOX 5 spoke to a student named Eddie who goes to school in Alexandria. He said he often sees students using Juul at school.
"A lot of people are like, 'Yo, let me hit your Juul.' They will be like, 'Oh, who has one?' And they pass them around," Eddie said.
He said some students are even selling Juul start kits.
"Pretty good side hustle at school," he said.
To buy Juul products on the company's website, you have to be at least 21 years old and the company does an age verification. But there are other websites that don't check.
"That is where the majority of our students do get them -- is online," Sexton said.
She said with kids sharing Juul and other vape pens, parents and students should know it is not just nicotine that could be inside.
"It's not just the flavored juices," Sexton said. "We see things like hash oil, alcohol, even synthetic substances that can be liquefied. They can also be vaped."
On Wednesday, Juul Labs announced it is committing $30 million over the next three years for research and youth and parent education. The company said it wants to help combat underage use and maintains their product is meant to be an alternative for adult smokers.