As schools continue to work their way through safely and effectively returning students to the classroom in response to COVID-19, there is still an ongoing epidemic that continues to be top of mind for educational administrators: student vaping.
Student vaping (including e-cigarettes) is a topic that has dominated news headlines for the last few years. Despite many of the efforts, the issue hasn’t gone away. In fact, over the last year alone, vaping and e-cigarette use has grown by 1,000 percent amongst high school students. More shockingly, this is even as usage among the nation’s youth has declined.
While there are clear health implications for students who choose to vape, the decision to do so on campus also impacts fellow students and faculty. This is especially true when done in areas like bathrooms and locker rooms where there isn’t proper circulation or air filtering.
A clear step in the right direction is the education on the effects of vaping. However, prevention is a crucial factor for improving student’s and faculty’s health and safety alike.
The Challenges of Vape Detection
One of the most significant challenges for schools dealing with student vaping is that it’s challenging to detect. Without evidence, or even the ability to know it’s happening in the first place, it’s difficult for administrators to know which students were involved, and in some instances, leads to a wrongful accusation.
Why Vaping is Hard to Detect
Unlike cigarettes and marijuana, which have distinct smells that are easy to identify, vaping is more difficult to associate with a scent. Products are available in a wide range of flavors, including ones that are unscented.
Students have also become accustomed to hiding their vaping while on campus, reducing the noticeability of vape detector clouds (the voluminous amounts of vapor exhaled) or smoking in areas like bathrooms and locker rooms.
While these efforts can make it challenging to identify student vaping, what doesn’t change is the impact exhaled vapor has on the breakdown of chemicals present in the air at a given time.
These chemicals include nicotine, propylene glycol and glycerol, which contribute to increases in total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), as well as increases in particulate matter and other cancer-causing chemicals.