The Extensive Measures Schools Are Taking To Curb Vaping On School Grounds
As the number of vapingteens and adolescents continues to rise, school districts around the nation are looking for ways to fight back. Schools across the country have banned e-cigarettes on school property over the last few years, but many students have been able to get around the rules by vaping discreetly in the bathroom or outside classrooms. Disciplinary measures for student violators have ranged from warnings to suspensions. However, in an effort to curb the number of young users, students caught vaping on school grounds can expect more than just simply a warning this school year.
In one North Texas district, students will be forced to attend an isolated weekend disciplinary school for a month if caught. Superintendent of Channing Independent School District, Michael Stevens, spoke on behalf of the new policy: “Hopefully it’s more of a deterrent… [Vaping] is a severe health problem.” Other school districts are following suit and cracking down on disciplinary measures as well. Another Texas school system went as far as to hire another resource officer to patrol the campus whose sole job is specifically looking for vaping students.
Additionally, thousands of schools across the nation have installed vaping sensors in the bathrooms to catch offenders. David Antar, president of the sensor company IPVideoCorp, said the number of weekly requests for the sensors from school districts has almost tripled to more than 200 in just the last month. The sensor devices can detect vaping in relatively hidden and concealed places like closets and bathrooms, and some are even equipped to detect THC oil.
One school in Alabama went as far as to remove all bathroom stall doors in the boys’ bathrooms in an effort to prevent vaping. Principle Gary Horton of Wilson High School in Florence, Alabama said that the rule went into effect after a student was found unconscious on the bathroom floor from “excessive vaping.”
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While these measures may seem excessive or extreme to some, the preventative actions follow the rise of a mysterious respiratory illness that U.S. health officials have linked to vaping. Just last month, an 18-year-old from Illinois was hospitalized with a serve pulmonary illness after using e-cigarettes for almost two years. According to his doctor, his lungs resembled that of a 70-year-old. In addition to over 450 possible cases of lung illness, seven individuals have died from the vaping related disease so far.
E-cigarettes were introduced to the U.S. market 15 years ago as safer alternative to traditional cigarettes; however, the products that were originally meant to target adult smokers now have a primarily younger consumer audience. E-cigarette companies like Juul Labs capitalized on the teen fad of vaping, marketing the products on Instagram with celebrity endorsements and falsely calling them “totally safe” without knowing the possible long-term health effects.
Due to this false advertising and easy accessibility, vaping has exploded in popularity among young people in recent years. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more than 3 million U.S. high school students used e-cigarettes in 2018, which is a 78% increase from the year before. The American Medical Association has urged Americans to stop using e-cigarettes and vape pens until physicians understand the cause of the respiratory illness, but the number of young vapers has not slowed down.
Despite the new measures, high schools and middle schools are still struggling to stop students from vaping on school grounds. Not only are vape pens easy to conceal, resembling USB flash drives, but some produce no smoke and emit no scent. This makes catching students fairly hard and many school officials are hoping for a reduction in numbers soon. As e-cigarette related deaths and illnesses continue to rise, schools are continuing to look for new approaches to tackle the problem of teen vaping.
Jena Hilliard earned her Bachelor’s of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida in English Literature. She has always had a passion for literature and the written word. Upon graduation, Jena found her purpose in educating the public on addiction and helping those that struggle with substance dependency find the best treatment options available.
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