PARKER, Colo. -- The Parker Police Department has an odd request for parents. It wants them to visit a local smoke shop.
The goal isn’t to purchase anything. It’s to learn about what smoke shops sell.
“It’s really important, especially for parents, to go into their local smoke shops and just ask the employees about the different things they are selling,” community officer Sherry Corcoran said.
The reason is because the line of products is different than it was just a few years ago.
While stores still sell the original glass pipes, the shelves are now dominated by vape pens and juices.
“We’re getting calls from parents who find things like vape pens and they don’t know what to do,” Corcoran said.
Boulder County health data suggest about half of high school students have tried an e-cigarette and a quarter have used them more than once in the past 30 days.
“They’re certainly popular amongst younger kids,” Corcoran said. “This isn’t just a teenage thing. This is starting younger and younger.”
At Smoking Buddah in Parker, employees are happy to give parents a crash course.
“I do have moms who will show up and bring different devices, who will then be wondering what it is their son or daughter had,” employee Kyle Strach said.
Strach said most of the time the devices are used to inhale liquid, flavored nicotine.
There are hundreds of brands and variations of e-cigarettes. The most popular ones on the market today include Juul, Suorin and Mi-Pod.
All of the devices resemble small electronics like USB drives, music drives or cell phones. They are designed to be discreet and easily concealable.
“High levels of nicotine. But they don’t produce the large clouds [of smoke],” Strach said.
Juuls are the most popular vape pen among teens and young adults. The pods that hold the liquid nicotine are disposable.
Juul pods are about the size of a piece of chewing gum, but according to the label, they contain the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
When a Juul pod is empty, they often end up as litter. Smoking Buddah staff called the pods as the modern day cigarette butt.
Juul has even become a common term among those who use it. The act of smoking a Juul is called “juuling.” It can also be used like a verb.
“Like, I’m going to go Juul out in the parking lot,” Strach said.
Smoking Buddah also sells concealment devices that allow items to be easily hidden inside them.
The devices look like name-brand soda cans, salt containers and countless other variations of containers.
The safes can be used to hide money, a spare key or things kids don’t want their parents to find.
“Know what they have in their rooms. Know the different types of hiding places,” Corcoran said.
“This isn’t going to go away and it’s really important for parents to understand that. And make sure they are knowledgeable about the products being sold today.”