WEST GROVE—Vaping sensors will be installed in all restrooms at Avon Grove High School, following a number of student suspensions for vaping.
“We have had an increase in policy violators this year due to vaping,” said Scott DeShong, Avon Grove High School principal. “It’s something that wasn’t a problem a year ago.”
Avon Grove will become the second high school in Chester County to install vaping sensors in all of its restrooms. Earlier, vaping sensors were installed in all restrooms at Phoenixville High School.
Avon Grove High School, which has just over 1,800 students, has eight restrooms, and two of them are closed due to vandalism and plumbing issues.
M. Christopher Marchese, superintendent of the Avon Grove School District, said 17 vaping sensors, which were ordered last week, should be installed in the next couple of weeks.
“The issue of vaping, I don’t think it’s just an Avon Grove issue,” Marchese said. “I think it’s an issue all school districts in Chester County are dealing with right now. I think once (the sensors) are installed, this won’t be happening as frequently as it is happening now.”
A recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General said e-cigarette use has increased 900 percent among high school students from 2011 to 2015. A U.S. Surgeon General’s report found that one in five high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past month. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control found that the number of high school students who reported being current e-cigarette users increased 78 percent to 3 million between 2017 and 2018, while the number of middle school students who identified as current e-cigarette users increased 48 percent to 570,000 during this time period.
E-cigarettes vaporize a liquid that may contain nicotine and other flavorings, and when the liquid is headed into an aerosol, users inhale it into their lungs.
Vaping is hard to detect because it doesn’t have an odor and devices can be disguised. JUUL Labs brand resemble USB sticks and allow students in school to take a quick puff and hide the e-cigarette in a jacket or even under their arm.
Bill Nichols, who owns Top Grade Vapors in Kennett Square, said he supports the effort to curb student use of e-cigarettes in restrooms.
“Schools have to do something about it,” he said. “Schools are a tobacco-free zone.”
It is unlawful for anyone under the age of 18 to use e-cigarettes. Most of the students in high schools are not 18. Nichols said it’s important to keep the product out of the hands of minors, adding he cards anyone 27 years old or younger.
At Avon Grove, the penalty for e-cigarette use on school grounds is a fine and out-of-school suspension.
“These (vaping sensors) are accurate and timely and we expect the same level of success with them that Phoenixville is having,” DeShong said.
The sensors detect vapors from an e-cigarette, and it signals an auto alert to an administrator’s Iphone, giving the administrator the exact location so they can respond promptly.
Avon Grove school officials recently discussed the issue at a forum at the Chester County Intermediate Unit, and counselors convened for hours to talk about the epidemic and how they should be addressing the issue.
E-cigarettes use has grown dramatically in the last five years, and, more high school students use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes, the CDC reported. The use of e-cigarettes is higher among high school students than adults.