Freeman School District installs vape detectors

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SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. Through the halls at Freeman High School, something is watching, or rather smelling to make sure kids and teens aren’t vaping.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in students using vape products, and we’re concerned,” Freeman School District Superintendent Randy Russell said.

Freeman School District has installed vaping detectors and Russell said they are part of a program that they launched earlier in the school year.

“We are trying to battle the vape situation that many school districts are faced with. We’re trying to do a couple of things. One is definitely be more proactive, communicate with students and parents about the concerns the harms associated with the vape. And also putting in a vape detector and having a vape detector on campus at Freeman,” Russell said.

The detectors can be installed high on a wall or ceiling. Once vapor is detected it sends an alert.

“It really is a sensor inside the machine, which then sends a signal to your surveillance system, and it can let you know where that vape was detected, and then your surveillance system assists you in identifying who the students are that were in that area when the vape detector went off, ” Russell said.

Just how bad is the vaping epidemic among high school and middle school students in the United States?

The FDA says in 2018, nearly 3.62 million middle school and high school students were users of e-cigarettes or vaping products. E-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018 increased 78 percent among high school students and 48 percent among middle school students

Their choice of flavor isn’t classic tobacco, but instead, users cited the appealing flavors like mango as the primary reason for using them.

Earlier this month, the Washington state board of health voted to ban flavored vaping products. The reason for the vote was because of the youth vaping epidemic and vaping illnesses.

Freeman’s campus, is a drug, tobacco, and vape free environment.

“The very first day that it was installed, right away, the vape detector we knew it was working and it helped out our administration to be able to connect with that issue and get right on it,” Russell said.

If students get caught, they can face a discipline referral. Then depending on the severity of it, they can get a written statement from the police and even pay a fine.