In another move to discourage vaping among teenagers, vape detectors were recently installed in several Mercer County schools.
The devices are capable of identifying any chemical that is burned through vaping, including nicotine and THC.
The vape detector devices were recently installed at Bluefield High School, Princeton Senior High School, PikeView High School and the Mercer County Technical Education Center through an agreement with Community Connections, Inc.
Teen vaping is a problem for a number of reasons.
First, no one under the age of 21 should be vaping. The same regulations regarding the sale of tobacco products also applies to vaping products, according to Candace Harless, the drug-free communities coordinator with Community Connections.
Nationally, people can start buying tobacco products and vaping products when they reach 21. High school students under the age of 18 obviously have no business vaping, and particularly not on school grounds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, minors who use vaping products are more likely to start smoking cigarettes when they become adults.
Using THC from marijuana is associated with health problems including short-term problems with memory, anxiety, suicidal ideation and attempts, depression and substance use disorder.
E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, can look like regular cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Some even look like USB flash drives, pens and other everyday items, according to the West Virginia Division of Tobacco Prevention.
Most vapes contain nicotine, which is the same highly addictive drug found in cigarettes.
While all children should be strongly discouraged by their parents from vaping or smoking, there have been instances locally where adults have actually purchased vaping products for their children, according to Harless.
“A lot of parents provide it, though,” Harless said. “They don’t know the health risks that come with vaping. They think it’s safer than cigarettes.”
Parents should know better. And no adult should be actively encouraging a child to develop an unhealthy habit.
While it is unfortunate to hear that vaping is occurring inside of local schools, the new vape detector devices should help in identifying and snuffing out this bad habit among local teens.
But parents need to take the lead at home to ensure their children are aware at an early age of the dangers associated with vaping and smoking.