GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — One in five high school students vape, and the age they start is getting younger and younger, according to the latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and school districts are taking steps to fight the trend. 

E-cigarette use actually declined slightly this year in high school-aged students but rose for middle schoolers. 

Guilford County Schools is the latest local district to decide to install vape detectors on their high school and middle school campuses.  

“The past couple of years, our principals and staff have complained about an increase in vaping at our schools,” said Mike Richey, assistant superintendent of safety and emergency management at GCS.  

With bright colors and flavors like peach mango and cranberry grape, vape products have become a trendy accessory for young students. 89 percent of students who report vaping say they use a flavored version.  

“I was surprised at the youth and how young our folks are that are vaping, and it does extend all the way into the middle schools,” Richey said.  

In an effort to curb vaping usage, GCS will install vape detectors in the spring. 

“We are looking at putting them into the middle school and high school bathrooms because that is the number one place that vaping is going on in our high schools and middle schools,” Richey said. 

Vape detectors are designed to send a silent alarm to administrators when vape aerosol is detected in the air.  

“They’ll be less likely to go between classes or to want to get out of class to go vape because there won’t be anywhere to do it,” he said.

Rockingham County Schools earned a grant to install vape detectors several years ago.  

“We have vape detectors in all of our middle schools and high schools and if you’re going to do it you’re going to do it outside of our campuses and outside of our buildings,” said Sean Gladieux, safety director and PIO at Rockingham County Schools.  

Rockingham County Schools also sees an uptick in younger students vaping and is working with the community to combat it.  

“We’re doing as much education as we can through our families and students and through having sometimes vaping 101 sessions at our high schools and having them open to anyone in the community that would like to attend those just to educate the public,” Gladieux said.  

With one in ten students reporting they’ve at least tried a vape product, Rockingham County wants to stop the problem before it starts. 

“It’s that intervention and education component and providing the student and their family members to hopefully either decide whether they’re going to vape or not well into their futures as young adults,” he said.  

If a student is caught vaping at a GCS campus, the district then mandates middle schoolers and high schoolers go through an educational program to learn about vaping consequences. 

The focus again is not so much on discipline with either district as it is on making sure students understand the long-range effects of vaping.

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In GCS, they say non-smoking students are tired of having to walk through smoke clouds in the bathrooms.  

Stokes County Schools also installed vape detectors and have reported success since their installation in the summer. 

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