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A vaping detector in a high school

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Dec14,2023

A vaping detector in a ;secondary school

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Even though adolescents are not legally allowed to purchase vaping products, there are several ways to obtain them illicitly.


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At Almaguin Highlands Secondary School in South River, south of North Bay, vaping detectors were installed in the school's bathrooms earlier this year.

Following a school climate survey, the Near North District School Board team found that many students did not feel safe when they went to the bathroom, especially because of students who go there to vape.

We find that when a student vapes, they may text their friends to say that they are vaping in the bathroom, explains Emily Samuel, assistant director of safe schools for the NNDSB.

Then his friends come to join him, and we find ourselves with a gathering of several students in the bathroom, which can lead to bad behavior or vandalism.

She adds that everything indicated that vaping was the cause of the feeling of lack of safety expressed by the students, which led to the installation of the detectors.

Vaping detectors are a relatively new technology.

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They work by detecting particles in the air. So this process also works for cannabis vapers.

If the pilot project goes well at Almaguin Highlands High School, Emily Samuel maintains that its primary goal is not to exercise discipline.

The detectors alert the management team when vaping occurs. Then, we go to the location of the alert to speak with the students there, she explains.

A conversation can then take place about the risks and dangers of vaping, without there necessarily being any immediate disciplinary action.

We include a form of progressive discipline, for example if it is the third or fourth time this conversation has taken place, there could be a loss of privileges for students, adds Ms. Samuel.

This can also lead to a concrete consequence like a suspension, but we are here to educate first; what we want is a change in student behavior.

A quote from Emily Samuel, assistant director of safe schools for the Near North District School Board

Detectors can also help identify problem cases. If I go to the same bathroom multiple times to meet with the same student, and I notice that student can't go more than 75 minutes without vaping, my conversation will focus more on addiction issues, Samuel continues.

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Staff can then help the student access support, either through the school board or in the community, such as with the public health unit, explains Emily Samuel.

Robert Schwartz, professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and executive director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, emphasizes that several resources are available for those dealing with vaping addiction, and it is important to provide this support sooner rather than later.

Young people can sometimes be unaware of how addictive nicotine is, he explains. For many people who start vaping, it can be very difficult to quit.

When it comes to student safety, Emily Samuel says that the vaping detector program is a success. Several students told him that they now felt safe in the bathrooms at this school.

It is therefore a pilot project which risks being continued and other schools could see this same type of detector in their bathrooms in the next year.

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Vaping is on the rise among teenagers, even though their sale is prohibited to those under 19.

Between 2017 and 2019, the rate of vaping in Ontario among students in grades 9 to 12 more than doubled, according to Amisha Yadav, community health worker for the North Bay-Parry Sound District Health Unit.

Several health problems have been identified in connection with vaping, particularly among adolescents.

Adolescent brains are still developing, and the impacts of vaping may be worse among young people, says Robert Schwartz.

Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine.

A quote from Robert Schwartz, professor at the Dalla School of Public Health Lana from the University of Toronto and Executive Director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit

The long-term impacts of vaping are still unknown, increasing experts' concerns regarding the use of electronic cigarettes by young people.

According to Amisha Yadav, vaping is also associated with a greater risk of depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems such as reduced impulse control .

Other school boards contacted for this report declined to comment.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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