Schools turn to air-quality monitors to crack down on student vaping

CDC reports 78% increase in teen use

ORLANDO, Fla. – There was a 78% surge in e-cigarette use by teens from 2017 to 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

School administrators and law enforcement officials said they're seeing the uptick in Central Florida schools, so they are doing everything they can to stop it, according to Rick Francis, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office school safety director.

"It is a problem that we are definitely looking at very seriously," Francis said. "We're seeing vaping increase in Seminole County and other counties around the Central Florida area." 

The Seminole County School District is turning to technology to crack down on vaping by installing vape-detecting devices in some schools and bathrooms, according to Francis.

The device monitors air quality. If the air changes because a student is vaping, it sends a text or email to school administrators, alerting them where it's happening.

"We're not going to disclose what schools they're in or what bathrooms, or what other areas of the school they're in, but we are going to expect to have several at several schools," Francis said.

The latest statistics from the CDC got the attention of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who met with law enforcement to discuss potential solutions.

"I believe that whatever the response is when a child is found with one of these devices, it must include education as to the very serious health risks," Moody said.

In Brevard County, Cpl. Kirk Gewiniger and his 3-year-old yellow Labrador retriever named Sonic make the rounds daily, searching schools, sometimes unannounced, to crack down on vaping.

Late last month, the makers of Juul were summoned to Washington, D.C., so lawmakers could examine the company's role in the youth nicotine epidemic.

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