- School districts in at least three states – Ohio, Illinois and New Jersey –have installed sensors to detect smoke from e-cigarettes. North Carolina could be next, as the state’s attorney general weighs the option of securing state funds to implement the technology, WCNC reports.
- The sensors cost about $1,000 each and are made to detect the chemicals in smoke from e-cigarettes. If the sensors pick up the chemicals, they send a text message to designated school personnel.
- So far, about six deaths and 450 illnesses in the U.S. have been linked to vaping, and school districts are starting to take extra measures to protect students.
The hazards of vaping have gained national attention in recent months as a spike in related illnesses have led advocates, lawmakers and even the president to decry the industry. And now, administrators and school leaders are grappling with how to properly address it in their local schools.
Elizabeth D’Amico, a behavioral scientist with the RAND Corp., recently said that the rise in the popularity of vaping among teens is somewhat to blame on misinformation. Students seem to think vaping is not as harmful or addictive as traditional cigarettes. Yet, as previously reported, half of the teens who vape go on to use combustible cigarettes in one year. And according to the U.S. Surgeon General, the chemicals in e-cigarettes can harm adolescent brains, which are continuing to develop until the age of 25.
Students are also misinformed about how many of their peers are vaping, drinking or smoking marijuana and tend to overestimate it. D’Amico recommends districts take an educational approach, rather than a punitive one, to combat the problem, by including information on the health risks in after-school and health education programs.
Administrators can also take the advice of the National Association of School Nurses and hire school nurses who are trained to identify the use of e-cigarettes early and recommend treatment, if needed.