Vaping has now surpassed smoking in being the main way tobacco is used illegally by students on Manteca Unified campuses.
“The numbers are alarming,” noted Victoria Brunn who serves as the district spokesperson.
The use of vaping devices has surged despite the district’s zero tolerance toward all tobacco products including e-cigarettes, vaping, and cigarettes.
The reason is simple. Unlike smoking a cigarette the odor as well as the device itself is extremely hard to detect.
Vaping devices look like items you’d expect to see in a school such as pens, USB drives, and even lipstick cases.
They don’t produce smoke or an acidy smell. They almost always produce pleasant smells as they come in flavors ranging from cinnamon to bubblegum. Students — thanks to vaping technology — can literally sneak a quick whiff walking around campus and even at their desk in a classroom. The vapor is either inhaled or, if it is exhaled, quickly dissipates.
That means students don’t have to sneak into a bathroom or find an area on campus off the beaten track to vape as they would have to in order to smoke a cigarette.
Based on a federal survey released last month an estimated 20 percent of all middle and high school students nationally have either vaped or used an e-cigarette often under the false assumption they are free of any health-related concerns as opposed to cigarettes.
That translates into 5.4 million students. About 4.3 percent or roughly 1 million of all students in 7th through 12th grades based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey and the agency’s subsequent strapulation of data they collected.
It is why the district is trying to find a way to tackle the problem that goes beyond strict enforcement when students are caught vaping and signage posted at every entrance onto school grounds stating that tobacco is prohibited on school property including electronic smoking devices.
Schools may purchase
vape detection devices
Sierra High and Manteca High are exploring the possible purchase of vape detection devices.
The sensors typically cost $1,000 each and have a $495 software setup fee.
The detectors — if triggered — send an electronic alert to school officials.
They are typically placed in bathrooms where students can vape for a longer period and don’t create a smell that annoys non-vaping students or tips off school officials.
The detectors are triggered by all types of smoke. They cannot tell the difference between vaping devices emitting smoke from THC oil extracted from marijuana or nicotine.
Sierra High is currently piloting a program for the district to discourage student vaping.
“This is something the district needs to work with parents to address,” Brunn said.
She noted there are parents not aware of vaping concerns or they may be oblivious if their child is vaping for the same reasons the practice can go undetected in school grounds.
Some Bay Area high schools such as Northgate High in Walnut Creek where administrators indicate 15 percent of incoming freshmen say they have already vaped require attendance at “vape school” on Saturdays for those students caught vaping more than once.
They are required to attend a four-hour “vape school” that offers lessons on the health impacts and dangers of vaping.
School resource officers in Chico allow students to turn in vaping devices for coupons for pizzas without being asked questions. A four-week period saw four dozen vaping devices traded for pizza coupons.
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