The Vaping Epidemic—What Are Schools Doing About It?


Vaping isn’t a new issue, but with the recent reports of mysterious lung illnesses linked to e-cigarettes, many schools are starting to crack-down. 

For the longest time, vaping was seen as a “safe alternative” to smoking cigarettes, but this theory has been disproved. Yet, vaping is still popular, especially among teens. To combat this new vaping epidemic among the youth, schools across the nation are starting to implement new rules, curriculums, and technology to keep their students safe.

Vape Detectors, Removing Bathroom Doors, and Checking Students

As the number of teens vaping continues to rise, certain school districts are taking extreme measures to stop them. Vaping detectors are being installed in school bathrooms and closets to detect vaping, THC oil (which is found in marijuana), and shouting between students. The detector will notify school administrators, who will deal with the issue accordingly.

In New Jersey, the Sparta Township School District has installed two vape detectors in their high school and are planning to install them all over their middle school. But they don’t intend to go as far as one Alabama school, which removed bathroom stall doors because they are “not looking to punish people,” but instead, want it to be an “educational, restorative and holistic response.” Similarly, the Revere Local School District in Ohio installed sixteen vape detectors in both their high school and middle school. Anyone caught by these detectors using, selling, or buying vapes risks suspension. Lastly, high schools in Chicago have also installed vape detectors, as one of the six deaths in the United States from lung illness happened in Illinois, and 42 cases of lung illness linked to vaping have occurred in the last three months.

Last year, in North Texas, the Channing School District tried to deter students from bringing vapes onto school property by requiring them to roll up their sleeves before entering the schools and suspending students who were caught vaping. This fall, students caught vaping in their schools will “be forced to attend a special, isolated disciplinary school for a month.”

Fines and New Health Curriculums

Suspension isn’t the only method being used to punish students for vaping on school grounds. The Fairhope police department, for example, is beginning to fine students at the Alabama high school anywhere from $10 to $50 for a first offense of vaping. According to the department, the number of students found vaping in school has decreased due to these measures in place. However, Saugus schools in Massachusetts have a very different approach. The school district plans to teach kids about the health consequences of vaping starting in 4th grade. School Committee Chairwoman Jeanette Meredith reports, “I think it’s going to get even worse and my biggest fear is that we need to educate the kids and the parents because a lot of the parents have no idea,” which is why she is pushing the new health and wellness curriculum into the town’s elementary, middle, and high schools.

Final Thoughts

Because vaping is such a huge issue, schools must become more involved in the process of educating students on its consequences and preventing them from vaping on school grounds. It’s time for all schools to start reacting to this epidemic to protect the physical health of those who are vaping and the emotional health of those who don’t.

Health consequences aren’t the only effects of vaping in schools. Another big issue that I, personally, have run into is being uncomfortable with vaping in school bathrooms. When you are a student who doesn’t vape and attend a school that doesn’t have a lot of regulations in place beside a standard anti-vaping policy, it can become difficult to feel comfortable in the school setting. Students vape in classes, bathrooms, closets, and hallways, which are often common places for kids to walk through. It shouldn’t take a student ten minutes to find a bathroom where there isn’t a peer standing in a dark corner doing something they aren’t supposed to. More needs to be done. Taking off bathroom stalls might not be the answer, but vaping detectors, bag checks, and other methods might be.  


This post was written by one of U4SC’s Educators 4SC Research Assistants, Samantha.

[Image Attribute: Vaping360]