Vape detectors to be installed at 5 Hamilton County schools

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NOBLESVILLE, Ind — The Hamilton County Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs (HCCOAOD) is working with Hamilton County schools to prevent vaping.

The HCCOAOD granted $27,000 to five middle and high schools to help them install 25 vape detectors.

“E-cigarettes are the most used tobacco product among youth,” said Monica Greer, executive director of HCCOAOD. 

Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale. Use of these devices is often referred to as vaping. 

“Unfortunately, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine and flavorings, which are highly addictive and can harm the developing adolescent brain,” Greer said. “We believe the installation of vape detectors may help slow the use of vapes and provide a learning opportunity for the students using them.”

The vape detectors will be put in each school’s restrooms and work like smoke detectors.

They will also be able to tell the difference between vaping, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and aerosols, like deodorant or cologne which students use to mask the smell of marijuana and scented vapes.

When the detector senses one of these, it will send a text to school administrators, telling them which bathroom it is in.

Each school system has its own policy to address a student who is caught vaping or with the device.

If the vaping device has THC or another illegal substance, the police are alerted, and the school follows its policies.

This year, the HCCOAOD, the Hamilton County Health Department and Breathe Easy Hamilton County put together a vape-free task force that meets with school leaders quarterly to strategize and share ideas. Treatment providers are also included in these meetings to help develop protocols and intervention ideas. 

“It’s a bigger problem than anyone thinks,” said one high school administrator. “Our detectors go off anywhere from five to 15 times a day. Middle school students are coming to us already addicted to vaping – kids in band, theater, sports – you name it. Every time we think we’re catching up with it, it takes off again.”