Schools throughout Pennsylvania are seeing a rise in vaping amongst students. Recently at a Warwick school board meeting the Principal noted the increase in students caught vaping in bathrooms. While this might just sound like “Smoking in the Boy’s Room”, today’s vape pens can be far more dangerous than anything seen in the 80s or 90s. In fact, the device that many ex-smokers and marijuana patients have adopted as the alternative to smoking could prove fatal to students tempted to experiment.
Over the past year schools throughout the country and here in Pennsylvania have reported the confiscation of vaping devices laced with fentanyl. According to some reports the number of fentanyl deaths amongst teens has nearly quadrupled in the US in the past two or three years. Certainly the combination of the trend in vaping and increased fentanyl smuggling creates a perfect storm for tragedy amongst our children.
Add onto this the fact that even major manufacturers have effectively targeted our children in ways much like the tobacco industry of the past. JUUL is currently settling claims nationwide for targeting children to the tune of about $1.2 billion and in 2022 they settled a lawsuit for $38.8 million with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. As part of the settlement JUUL will alter it’s advertising practices and monitor retail outlets. Unfortunately retail outlets have an abundance of alternative brands and even cannabis products that may be another problem altogether.
As it pertains to schools, part of the problem with vaping has been the difficulty of enforcement. Thanks to the development of vaping detectors, schools are now better able to monitor bathrooms. Since offending students can still be difficult to identify schools like Laurel in New Castle, PA have combined bathroom vape detectors with hallway cameras. This way administrators can investigate and look for patterns of vape alarms and the repeat presence of certain individuals.
Ultimately the battle against vaping will have to start at home. While we can certainly begin encouraging schools throughout the sate to install vape detectors, as parents, we must warn our children of the dangers associated with these devices. Unlike the experimental puff many of us have tried, an experimental pull off a fentanyl laced vape could result in an overdose or death the first time. If that does not give your son or daughter a good reason to pass perhaps the mention of pee in a vape pen will do the trick.