Humble ISD buys vape detectors to limit smoking by teens | #socialmedia | #children

From public advertisements to warning labels, experts caution against teenagers vaping, but that doesn’t stop the $12.4 billion industry from reaching adolescents.

Humble ISD is working on ways to curb the use of vaping in areas that are difficult to monitor, like bathrooms at secondary schools. The board of trustees approved a $327,000 purchase of vape detectors during a school board meeting in March.

Although tobacco and vape products are not allowed at school, the small devices are notoriously difficult to track as they resemble a pen or a USB drive, Humble ISD Chief Communications Officer Jamie Mount said.

The products are dangerous to teens, experts say.

E-cigarette aerosols chemicals can contain formaldehyde, acrolein, acetaldehyde, acrylonitrile, propylene oxide, and crotonaldehyde and toxic metal particles such as nickel, lead, and chromium according to an article from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, an article from the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics challenges the idea that the vapor is safe because volatile organic compounds identified in their study were carcinogenic.

“We piloted the detectors in the fall semester at Kingwood High School and at Atascocita High School,” Mount said in an email statement. “The detectors are now being installed at every middle school and every high school as part of our commitment to providing safe, healthy environments for all students.”

Including hardware, installation, connectivity and integration to district technology, the sensors cost about $9,100 per middle school and about $40,800 per high school, according to Mount.

“When the detectors sense vaping aerosol, an electronic message is sent to school administrators so that they can investigate,” Mount said in an emailed statement. “The presence of the sensors deters students from vaping on school property.”

Dr. Eric Bernicker, a thoracic medical oncologist at Houston Methodist Hospital, said doctors are interested in understanding the effect vaping has on the lungs.

Vaping has been researched as an alternative to combustible cigarettes with mixed reviews on whether it can actually help reduce harm for smokers, but Bernicker said the concern with the use of vape products at a young age is the likelihood that as these high school age students age they will transition to cigarettes.

“The big debate about vaping tends to conflate two issues,” Bernicker said. “…So the issue of youngsters using, I think the big concern we have is that it’s going to — not only is it not healthy, but getting the brain addicted to nicotine when it’s still developing strikes all of us as a pretty bad idea and the concern is that a lot of these students will get addicted to nicotine and will actually eventually migrate to cigarettes from e-cigs.”

JUUL, the sleek style e-cig that resembles a USB, was found to have five to eight times the amount of nicotine as other tobacco products according to a study from the University of California San Fransisco. With the negative side effects and mostly unknown long-term consequences, teens continue to pick up vaping.

“I think that nicotine, at least initially, is a very pleasurable substance,” Bernicker said. “People get a rush, they feel more energetic, so it doesn’t necessarily feel bad, which of course, is the whole point of getting people addicted. I’m sure some of it is just it seems cool, and I also think last but not least, I know a lot of students think, ‘well it’s not a cigarette so it’s not unhealthy,’ and of course that’s far from the truth.”

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