As illicit vaping by teenagers on school campuses reportedly climbs, some schools have begun to roll out a new interdiction and deterrent measure: vape detectors.
Physically resembling smoke detectors in both appearance and function, vape detectors are designed not to set off an audible alarm but rather to notify school staff, who would then step in and intervene with youth who are violating campus rules (as well as the law) against underage use of vapor products. Some of these devices are also reportedly capable of detecting THC in exhaled vapor.
According to reporting by CNN, the devices will be deployed in locations around the campus where students have traditionally attempted to surreptitiously smoke combustible cigarettes and cannabis products, such as lavatories and supply closets. Further, the detectors will incorporate audio sensors intended to catch the audible signs of student-on-student violence.
The devices have already been rolled out across several U.S. states, including New Jersey, Ohio, and Illinois. In New Jersey alone, ten school districts have deployed the vape detectors, with many more districts requesting information and/or inclusion in the program. In Ohio, Revere Local School District has already installed 16 of the devices across its Rovere Middle School and Rovere High School campuses. Local district official Jennifer Reece said:
“We decided it was probably important to do more than just talk about it,” she said. “[We] thought that we need to take more action.”
Penalties for students caught vaping can be as severe as suspension.
In Illinois, suburban Chicago area schools are also participating in the program, with detectors installed on campuses in Hinsdale Central High School, Hinsdale South High School, and Evanston Township High School.
As we have long maintained, enforcement strategies, rather than prohibition, will prove to be far more effective at reducing illicit underage vaping while maintaining a truly effective tobacco harm reduction strategy for adults.