Vaping continues to make headlines around the country. Most recently, this attention has come from a string of health crises—including multiple deaths—all of which have been linked to vaping.
Now, vaping is once again at the heart of controversy. This time, in public schools located in Utah. Specifically, a number of school districts around the state are purchasing and installing vape detectors inside bathrooms.
Vape Detectors Showing Up in Utah Schools
As reported by local Utah media outlet 2 KUTV, a number of school districts in the state are trying to crack down on student vaping. To do so, these districts are buying and installing specialized detectors inside bathrooms.
These detectors are capable of sensing both cigarette smoke and vapor coming from vapes. Additionally, they can also reportedly detect escalated noise, in indicator of potential bullying or fighting.
Administrators at some of these districts said the detectors are there to protect students. Specifically, they said that vapes are almost exclusively the product of choice for high school students.
In fact, the principal at one high school with the new detectors said the has not confiscated cigarettes or smokeless tobacco from students for almost three years.
Additionally, many administrators at the school point to the ongoing epidemic of lung injury, illness, and death linked to vaping.
“This was driven by our parent groups coming to us wanting us to do something,” Wasatch High School Assistant Principal Adam Hagen told 2 KUTV. “We were seeing an escalation in the number of vape cases.”
School Districts Spend Thousands on Detectors
To date, at least nine school districts have purchased the detectors. And in some cases, these detectors carry a hefty price tag.
According to 2 KUTV, here’s a rundown of some of the districts that have purchased the detectors:
- Wasatch School District spent nearly $40,000 to install 40 sensors. They installed them in every bathroom of the district’s one high school and two middle schools. So far, at least 20 students have been suspended after getting caught vaping.
- Nebo School District purchased two detectors to use in a pilot program. So far, the sensors have not picked anything up.
- Grand School District spent more than $7,000 on sensors that were installed in April. So far, the district reports that the sensors have not actually worked. Administrators also said that two vapes were found at a school, both of which reportedly contained meth.
Given the timeline of when these detectors started being installed in schools, it is unclear if the sensors came before or in response to the current vaping panic.
The first reports of lung illnesses from vaping started trickling in around March. Since then, the number of health problems linked to vaping has escalated dramatically.
To date, more than 1,000 people have fallen ill from vaping. And 18 people have died.
So far, there is not any definitive answer as to what is causing these illnesses and deaths. But many health officials are pointing to a couple possible culprits.
This includes heavy metals from certain heating coils used in some vapes. Additionally, authorities have found a number of contaminants that could behind the illnesses, most notably Vitamin E Acetate.
Early tests point to illicit market vape products as potentially more contaminated than legally-sold vaping products.