This article originally appeared on Tyler Paper. To view the original article, click here.
Tyler ISD is cracking down on vaping this year, making it clear to students that they can’t get away with vaping on school grounds.
The district installed more than 70 vape detectors at all high school campuses and the Career & Technology Center ahead of the new school year. Additional vape detectors will be added to the middle schools this year, and vape detectors were included in the 2021 Bond for the new Hubbard Middle School and new Early College High School.
The message is to let students know they will be caught if they vape at school facilities.
The detectors can detect a variety of things, including vape smoke.
Marty Crawford, superintendent at Tyler ISD, said this issue is one the district takes very seriously.
“Vaping is a serious issue with our youth,” Crawford said. “You can’t buy bourbon in Tyler, Texas, but our youth can get their hands on vapes on almost every corner around town. We are educators, not health monitors.”
He also said help from city and county leaders and state legislators would be appreciated.
Tyler ISD will also tighten the policy regarding vaping.
If a student is caught vaping or with a vape product, they will be sent to the district’s Discipline
Alternative Education Program.
Students will also receive a Class C misdemeanor citation and a fine of up to $100.
If authorities discover other substances in the vape, like THC, the student will be arrested with felony charges.
“Students who violate the electronic cigarette provision will be placed in a DAEP for no less than 10 days, even on a first offense,” said John Johnson, director of constituent services. “We hope parents take this time to talk to their children about the ramifications of vaping on school property.”
Crawford said the district has dealt with vaping too much over the last year.
He also said part of the reason why these detectors were installed was to let students know their leaders care about their health.
“We hate that we have to be so strict with sending students to alternative school if found with a vape, but at the same time, this is an issue that’s taking away our focus from successful student outcomes,” Crawford said. “It’s sad that we have to discuss this but we are not going to spend our time chasing our tail.”
The nationwide vaping trend exploded in 2019 when Juul’s high-nicotine, fruity-flavored cartridges quickly drew attention from middle and high school students. In 2019, Juul halted all advertising and eliminated its fruit and dessert flavors. The next year, the FDA restricted flavors in small vaping devices to tobacco and menthol. Separately, Congress raised the purchase age for all tobacco and vaping products to 21.
Danny Brown, chief police officer for Tyler ISD, said the school did a public service campaign last year after an increase in student vaping.
The campaign alleviated the problem temporarily, but a resurgence has been seen since then, according to Brown.
“One of the reasons why I believe we need to do this is because there are so many different vapes that you don’t know what’s inside them,” Brown said.
According to Dr. Suma Sinha, lung specialist at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, vaping can have many negative effects on the human body, especially the lungs.
Sinha said vaping causes a condition called EVALI, or E-Cigarette Vape-Related Acute Lung Injury. This condition has the potential to cause significant damage to the lungs up to the point where the patient has to be hospitalized for oxygen.
“We are very concerned not only about the acute effects but also chronic effects caused by e-cigarettes,” Sinha previously said. “We really discourage their use in general just like we do with smoking.”