Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard that high schools are having a hard time dealing with teenage vapers. Whether it's creme brulee flavored Juul pods or black market Dank Vapes, teens are puffing vape pens everywhere they can. But even as more and more young people are getting afflicted with the “mysterious vaping illness,” and parents routinely lament big tobacco-style advertising targeted at teens, the vape trend is showing no signs of slowing down.
For public school administrators though, the 21st century problem has come with a 21st century deterrent: specially calibrated vapor detectors.
According to reports from CNN and a number of local news stories from New Jersey, Massachusetts, Utah, and more, school districts across the nation are shelling out thousands of dollars to equip bathrooms and hallways with new-age smoke detectors that alert administrators.
“We were seeing an escalation in the number of vape cases,” Adam Hagen, Assistant Principal at Wasatch High School in Utah, where vape detectors were recently installed, told local CBS affiliate KUTV. "This was driven by our parent groups coming to us wanting us to do something.”
The Wasatch School District spent $40,000 to set up the district-wide vape detection system. At the high school where Assistant Principal Hagen works, he says that bathroom vape incidents have been reduced to zero since the sensors were implemented.
Gallery — Here's What Fake Vapes Actually Look Like:
In the most drastic attempt to stop in-school vaping, a high school in Lauderdale County Alabama announced last month that they had removed bathroom stall doors in an effort to push vapers out of hiding. But while that policy may have put a halt to vape plumes, it could also cause a whole host of other privacy problems for a school full of pubescent teens.
Lung damage due to tainted vape consumption has already sent more than one thousand Americans to the hospital and killed more than a dozen. In states like Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, and others, legislators and health officials have reacted by banning some or all vape products, typically flavored e-juice. but it is not yet clear if those actions will help curtail the issue, or simply push more users to purchase potentially dangerous black market knock-offs.
Follow Zach Harris on Twitter