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Project helps schools buy vape detectors

In order to better combat the rising number of students who vape or use e-cigarettes, the Cambria County Drug & Alcohol Program has created an enticement for local school districts to seek out users.

Through the Environmental Strategies Reimbursement Project, the Drug & Alcohol Program has created a competitive funding opportunity for schools to obtain reimbursement for vape detectors.

“We want to have a process to connect kids to professional services,” Program Administrator Frederick Oliveros said. “If schools are going to formulate a strong policy that provides intervention for students who vape, the vaping detector could be a mechanism to start the process.”

Results from the Pennsylvania Youth Survey uncovered increased vaping and e-cigarette use by students.

Oliveros said that while users would smoke regular and non-nicotine flavors, usage has now progressed to where students use e-cigarettes to smoke THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.

Oliveros said many kids obtain information or purchase e-cigarettes online.

While vaping is perceived as a healthier alternative to regular smoking, he said the chemicals users put into their bodies are very harmful.

“It’s a relatively new phenomenon, and these kids don’t know what they’re getting into,” Oliveros said. “You’re putting vapor into your lungs, and your lungs are just not made to handle those substances”

To counter the rise in e-cigarette users, Oliveros said the Drug & Alcohol Program has provided counseling and intervention services for students caught vaping or using other e-cigarettes in school.

The detectors could potentially identify other users, and he said the goal is to find those students and send them through intervention services.

For schools to be eligible to receive reimbursement, they must first update their policies and procedures to allow the Drug & Alcohol Program to render services.

“This is a catalyst to start having conversations with schools to get kids the proper professional support they need,” he said.

Oliveros said the vape detector reimbursement system could be a strong enticement for schools to update their policies.

A “handful” of schools in the area have already installed vaping detectors, Oliveros said, and several others have inquired.

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