Mobile County Public School System to install vape detectors in middle and high schools

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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – To crack down on the use of vaping at school, Mobile County Public Schools are installing vape detectors with the hope of decreasing the number of users.

According to a study by the CDC and FDA, last year, 2.3 million students in the U.S. reported current use of e-cigarettes. That includes over 500,000 middle schoolers.

Executive Director of the Drug Education Council Virginia Guy said vaping has become a trend.

“We have seen an alarming number of children and teens vaping in the last few years,” Guy said. “This vape device has kind of made nicotine use cool again.”

According to Guy, vaping will lead to harmful consequences.

“It does permanent lung damage. The lung is the only organ that doesn’t repair itself. So, the damage you do to your lungs is permanent.”

With this dangerous epidemic, MCPSS is installing Halo vape detectors.

This idea was brought forth by students who asked that something be done.

In December of 2022, Alabama received a $15.5 million settlement after Juul Labs Inc. settled a lawsuit brought by numerous states.

MCPSS is able to use some of the settlement money to pay for the detection devices.

Andy Gatewood, MCPSS director of safety and security, said this is necessary.

“We’re always looking for ways to be progress and proactive and trying to figure out ways we can not only help our kids but help our schools in general,” Gatewood said.

Once the devices are installed, they will pick up nicotine, THC and even include a safety feature.

“They can differentiate between regular vape and a THC vape,” he said. “They employ an aggression detection option. If they’re installed in say a restroom and the noise level gets above a certain level, then administrators or whoever on the response team is notified. The ultimate goal is to make sure our campuses are as safe as they can be, and our kids are as safe as they can be.”