To better tackle the growing number of students who vape or use e-cigarettes, the Cambria County Drug and Alcohol Control Program has urged local school districts to seek out users.
As part of the Environmental Strategies Reimbursement Project, the Drugs and Alcohol Program created a competitive funding opportunity for schools to obtain reimbursement for vaping detectors.
“We want to have a process to connect children to professional services”, Program administrator Frederick Oliveros said. “If schools are to formulate a strong policy that includes intervention for students who vape, the vaping detector could be a mechanism to start the process.”
Results from the Pennsylvania Youth Survey revealed an increase in vaping and e-cigarette use by college students.
Oliveros said that although users smoked regular, nicotine-free flavors, use has now increased until students use e-cigarettes to smoke THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.
Oliveros said that many children get information or buy electronic cigarettes online.
Although vaping is seen as a healthier alternative to regular smoking, he said that users of chemicals introduced into their bodies are very harmful.
“It is a relatively new phenomenon, and these children do not know what they are getting into”, Oliveros said. “You put steam in your lungs, and your lungs just aren’t made to handle these substances”
To counter the increase in the number of e-cigarette users, Oliveros said the Drugs and Alcohol Program provided counseling and intervention services to students caught vaping or using cigarettes. other electronic cigarettes at school.
The detectors could potentially identify other users, and he said the goal was to find those students and send them through emergency services.
In order for schools to be eligible for reimbursement, they must first update their policies and procedures to enable the Drug and Alcohol Program to provide service.
“This is a catalyst to start having conversations with schools in order to provide children with the professional support they need”, he said.
Oliveros said the vape detector reimbursement system could be a strong incentive for schools to update their policies.
A “handle” schools in the area have already installed vaping detectors, Oliveros said, and several more have inquired.