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YATESVILLE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — According to the CDC, more than one in four high school students nationally use e-cigarettes.
With teen vaping rates surging, a local school district decided to turn to technology to curb student vaping. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller shows us the innovative approach.
The blaring sound coming from a student rest room ceiling on Wednesday was a vape detector. It’s the result of a pilot program at Pittston Area School District which began installing the detectors two months ago.
Pittston Area Superintendent Kevin Booth said, “Whatever we can do to ensure that our students are safe and healthy, we’re going to throw all the resources at it that we can.”
Detecting e-cigarette use among students has become increasingly difficult for schools. Vaping devices are now different than most of the kinds Pittston Area has confiscated in recent years.
Pittston Area Director of Security Mike Boone said, “They used to be not very long ago very big and bulky and had a very strong odor with flavors and that has kind of moved away.” He added, “They’re very small. Very stealthy. They even moved away from the odors.”
The detectors have been so successful that Pittston Area decided to add them to its two other student lavs at the high school and all six lavatories at the middle school. The roughly 1,000 Pittston Area High School students became aware of the vape detectors the first day of use.
Junior Breanna Singer said, “I think it’s a really good idea that they have them in there. I think it’s a way that, you know, to stop kids from vaping.”
But detection is only part of the equation here. Explaining to students that “some kids are experiencing nose bleeds, dry mouths”, Children’s Service Center Prevention Education Specialist Jaime Flynn works with students to discourage vaping that’s grown popular with its seductive flavors.
Vaping has proven to be so dangerous and addictive, the topic is covered as part of the school’s general health curriculum.
Pittston Area High School Health/Physical Education Teacher Jim Blaskiewicz said, “I think now we’re going to have a whole generation of students… of children will be hooked on nicotine who probably never would have smoked a cigarette in their life which is very sad and troubling.”
Since installing the vape detectors, other schools have reached out to Pittston Area for anti-vaping advice.