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Vape Detectors in Bathrooms?

By: Portia Kwan

Photo by Portia Kwan

Last week, there was a small rumor going around that d.tech administration had installed vape detectors in the bathrooms. “Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device,” according to centeronaddiction.org. Although no systems are in place to detect vaping, admin has discussed testing a new technology that can detect gas and moisture in the air in the bathroom. These little vapor-detecting boxes could play a huge role in holding students who violate the school policy against vaping accountable.

For most high schools, vaping in the bathrooms is something most teachers and staff don’t pay much attention to. But for d.tech, it’s something our teachers and staff take very seriously. Perhaps it’s because of our reputation with Oracle and the amount of publicity we get about our school. But according to government teacher and Dean of Student Culture Henry Lonnemann, the reason why d.tech administration cares is because d.tech’s “number one concern is health and wellness and we want to help young adults make wise decisions in regards to their bodies and what they put in their bodies.”

Other schools such as Menlo-Atherton High School, Henry M. Gunn High School, and Palo Alto High School don’t focus as heavily on the health effects of vaping as d.tech. “Students at my school vape in the bathrooms and some teachers know about it but they don’t do anything,” says Mira Tan, a senior at Menlo Atherton High School.

At Gunn High School, freshmen Maddy Soh says, “The teachers know but they don’t do anything. Like they don’t really care..”

At Palo Alto High School, junior Jared Yang says that a lot of students vape in the bathrooms because it’s a really big part of the culture: “I think teachers are unsure if they can do anything because so many students are involved in it.”

We’ve all heard rumors about students being caught in bathrooms vaping. According to Mr. Lonnemann, “This year about 10 students have been caught”, but he suspects there are many more students who vape.

How would these detectors work? Lonnemann describes it as a sensor that can “detect a change in atmosphere.” The detector would be put in all bathrooms around campus and can detect gas and moisture in the air. He hopes that by putting these detectors in the bathrooms students would be less likely to vape. Additionally, he wants to put awareness posters in or around the bathrooms providing information about the health effects of vaping

d.tech wouldn’t be the first school to install vaping detectors. In August of 2017, all New York Schools banned smoking and vaping and installed Fly Sense, a vaping detector in the school bathrooms.

Students’ reactions to the prospect of vape sensors are mixed. Junior Joanne Luong responded, “On one side of it, the school should be able to trust the students.” On the other hand, she doesn’t feel like there will be much change without a shift in anti-vaping strategy. Junior Andrew Osgood says he “think[s] it’s good because it stops people from vaping in the bathrooms because they shouldn’t be doing it at school.”

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