Addressing Vaping in Schools: How To Address This Odorless Epidemic

The results of a May 2019 Wall Street Journal survey are astonishing.

  • The survey found almost one-third of teens say they currently vape.
  • More than half of teens who vape say they do it because they like the flavors that e-cigarette liquids come in, and say vaping is fun.
  • More than two-thirds said they think vaping can be part of a “healthy life.”

Just like you we’ve been duped at one point in our lives, our students are being deceived, too.

Vaping is marketed to impressionable kids, downplaying the dangers.

With a plethora of flavors available for vaping, as well as the variety of colors and devices available that charge just like cell phones, it’s clear that vaping products are marketed to teens.

Vaping advertisers even created slang terms for vaping, also known as JUULing (“jeweling”).

Advertisers are a crafty bunch who’ve created vaping devices that look more like USB flash drives rather than an e-cigarette. Vaping is also marketed as a “safe” alternative to cigarettes, which we all know isn’t true.

Most teens are under assumption that because e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, they’re safe.

How are other school districts addressing this odorless epidemic?

Like you, we know that vaping chemicals used in the vaping liquids can be concentrated and dangerous.

We also know that vape pen or e-cigarettes, especially in the case of one containing nicotine or THC, can enhance a user’s high and can amplify a drug’s side effects.

Vaping is also very new and there are hundreds of brands, which means there’s not a lot of information about what chemicals might be in what vape liquids.

If you know of students (or perhaps your son or daughter) who are vaping, first take a step back and take a deep breath because if you overreact by creating an unsafe or uncomfortable space, your students will shut down.

The last thing your school wants to do is create an adversarial situation between you and your districts kids.

In order for your school district to have success in addressing the vaping battles, you have to successfully create a safe, open and comfortable space so your students start talking.

As frustrated as you’ll get, keep reminding yourself to speak and listen from a place of love and support.

Here’s a few things that your peers are calmly communicating to students:

  1. Explain that young people who use THC or nicotine products, including e-cigarettes or vaporizers, are at risk for long-lasting effects.
  2. Substances found in vaping devices are harmful because they affect the development of the brain’s reward system which can lead to addiction, as well as other health struggles.
  3. Mental health and behavioral issues are higher in teens because there’s a difficulty regulating thoughts and emotions due to the connection between psychiatric conditions and substance use from vaping.

Your students will undoubtedly be influenced by things like pop culture, seeking a form of escapism/self-medication, boredom, rebellion, instant gratification, and a lack of confidence. While these are all bigger issues to tackle, they a part of the root of the problem that need addressing.

One of the best ways that school districts are addressing this growing epidemic is by using a familiar tool.

What’s the tool?

Vape detection sensors.

The sensor devices, which look like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, detect vaping in places such as bathrooms or closets. This is important because these are the kinds of places where kids have tried to smoke for decades.

We’ll talk more in-depth in the next blog about the details of these vaping detectors, how they work, and how your school district can solve vaping struggles by leveraging innovative technology.

Until then, fill out the form to the right of this page to schedule time with one of our team members.

Join your fellow school administrators, educators, and peers for a webinar about best practices to addressing these vaping struggles, once and for all: Click Here to Register!

Madison Olson