SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Drug dependency experts say a popular smoking device can also be used for hard drugs; and based on its size, it’s easy to see how kids can keep it hidden from parents.
In the shape of a pen, its looks can be deceiving. It maybe something you’d find in your kids backpack, but it is no school supply.
High school kids don’t need any explanations for this one, recognizing the device immediately as CBS13’s Steve Large showed them the device.
“Yeah a lot of kids have them,” said one student.
They are called hookah pens. It’s like flavored smoke, but many hookah pens release vapor with nicotine inside.
Finding a student carrying one in their backpack was easy.
“This is…it should be strawberry, I think,” said one student showing CBS13 his hookah pen.
The hookah pens are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“The FDA has not taken a stand on how they are going to regulate them as a tobacco cessation device,” said Breath California Senior Program Director Kimberly Bankston-Lee.
Although it is illegal to sell them to children under 18 years old, they clearly appear to be marketed to kids.
“This is just the game within the game to be tricky and to appeal to the younger crowd,” said Jon Daily, a licensed clinical social worker and substance abuse counselor.
Daily says some hookah pens and other so-called “vaping” devices are not only used for tobacco products.
“When you go to a smoke shop today, there’s over 700 types of paraphernalia to smoke tobacco, and I would make the bet that 2 percent of it is being used to smoke tobacco,” said Daily.
When we asked students if their parents knew what the device was, the said “probably not.”
Parents CBS13 spoke with were seeing the hookah pens for the first time.
“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Lisa Smith, a parent of a high school student.
So, parents beware; teenagers have another toy.
One student we spoke to admitted he wasn’t 18 years old, but did have a hookah pen.
“And you are how old?” asked Large.
“I’m a grown little man,” replied the student.
Not all hookah pens contain nicotine, but many of those that do have similar nicotine levels as real cigarettes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report in September, showing e-cigarette and hookah use is increasing among high school and middle school students.