CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Hooked by fruit flavors and peer pressure, kids as young as seventh-graders are vaping in school.
It's such a pervasive problem, Aprende Middle School in the Kyrene School District is turning to technology to detect when its students are using e-cigarettes on campus.
"Now we're at the point where we're almost getting reports on a daily basis,” said principal Renee Kory.
The school just became the first in the state to install vape sensors in all of its seventh- and eighth-grade girls and boys bathrooms.
“They're maybe about 2 inches thick and they're on the ceilings. They're white and they look like little white boxes,” said assistant principal Carl Nasuta.
If the sensors are triggered, an alert is sent to all administrators’ phones and email, letting them know someone is vaping, and directing them to the exact bathroom.
They've already caught students in the act.
Possession of a vaping device on campus comes with a five- to 10-day suspension, a call to their mom and dad and a visit from the school resource officer.
“They're devastated. I’ll be honest, they're pretty upset with themselves that they did this and they got caught,” said Nasuta, talking about how his students react to when they’re caught vaping.
The CDC says nicotine exposure can harm adolescent brain development and says young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
“We need to make these kids understand this isn't a trend. This isn't just something you do to be cool. This is something that can really affect your health, so that's our biggest concern,” said Kory.
The sensors also detect loud noises, so if there's a fight or bullying in the bathroom, administrators will know about that too.