In-house experts share strategies at PTSO program “Just Think: Vaping, alcohol, marijuana--Know the risks for your teen” 

Almost 20 parents/guardians joined the PTSO for an informative session on teen health and safety on October 24. Presenters were Prevention/Intervention Social Worker Alison Malkin from Newton North and Officer John Panica from the Newton Police Department. Thank you to both presenters and to Linda Hanusaik and Elizabeth Reilly, PTSO vice presidents of programming, for planning this valuable session!

Here are some key points, strategies, and resources from the session. 

Key points

  • Many teens don’t believe that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. 
  • Juul devices, a form of e-cigarettes, were designed to look like a tech product; one of the designers worked for Apple before joining Juul.
  • Advertising for Juul and e-cigarettes is not regulated like tobacco advertising. 
  • E-cigarettes are sold with sweet flavors (e.g., crème brulee, mango, cotton candy) that appeal to teens. 
  • E-cigarettes are easier to start using than cigarettes; they are inconspicuous and hard to detect.
  • E-cigarettes are much more addictive than cigarettes. Nicotine affects chemical receptors in the brain and it can prime the developing teen brain for future substance abuse. 
  • Juul devices provide an initial dose of nicotine that is bigger than that of a cigarette; the effect tapers off gradually.
  • Experts believe that using e-cigarettes will cause a new generation to become addicted to nicotine, leading to a rise in cigarette smoking, which had been declining among teens. 
  • Studies have shown that nicotine can cause significant negative effects on brain development, including a decrease in IQ.
  • A City of Newton ordinance bans the sale of tobacco products including e-cigarettes to anyone under age 21.
  • E-cigarettes are relatively easy to purchase online. 
  • E-cigarette refill pods retail for about $5, but older students sometimes resell them to younger students for as much as $20-$25.
  • The hot liquids delivered to the lungs during vaping can cause “popcorn lungs” that lead to conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema.
  • Juul devices can be hacked to deliver THC (liquid marijuana).
  • NNHS revised its chemical health policy in 2017-18. Students who are caught vaping have their devices confiscated and parents notified. Many meet with the NNHS prevention/intervention social worker.
  • There is a smoke-free zone extending 300 yards from the NNHS perimeter.
  • Marijuana edibles are not legal in Massachusetts, but they are leading to emergency-room admissions in other states. 
  • Boston hospitals offer substance abuse programs for teens. 
  • The City of Newton ballot questions on marijuana are confusing and merit careful study before voting (see Resources, below).

Parent/guardian strategies

  • Watch this six-minute video about Juuling with your teen, and use it to start a discussion:
  • Talk with your children and teens about vaping, marijuana, and alcohol and their deleterious effects on developing brains
  • Help your teen find constructive activities like clubs, work, and sports.
  • Know your teen’s friend group, and connect with your teen’s friends’ parents/guardians to set shared ground rules. 
  • Run through scenarios with your teen so he/she will know how to handle tricky situations (e.g., being offered an illegal substance, wanting to leave a party without losing face).
  • Be aware that what parents/guardians say and do and what behavior they model impacts and influences their teens; even when it seems that teens are not listening, they definitely are.  
  • Provide consistent limits, positive reinforcement, and natural consequences; all of this makes a difference for teens.


Six-minute video about Juuling:

Just Think: Teens Making Smart Choices Expo sponsored by the PTSO on January 8, 2019. (Volunteer to help with planning by emailing

City of Newton Municipal Ballot Questions:

Newton Wellesley Hospital program (September 26, 2018) "Juuling and Schooling: Navigating the New Reality":

Click on the links below for literature and a PowerPoint from Newton Wellesley Hospital.

 Vaping Controlling The Epidemic (PDF)

 Vaping Map (PDF)

 What Parents Need To Know (PDF)

 What Schools Need To Know (PDF) 

 JUULing and Schooling (PowerPoint)