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Utah schools trying to combat vaping

The Utah County Health Department has had a program for years to help parents and schools find vaping products, which are usually disguised as ordinary objects. Photo: CNN File

Schools in Utah are trying to tackle teens and vaping as the numbers grow.

Nationally, it’s now 1 in 4 high school seniors and 1 in 5 sophomores who reported using e-cigarettes this year, according to a University of Michigan study. Utah’s numbers should be out sometime in October.

Some students say they can’t go to the bathroom at school because kids are in there vaping.

Hall monitors, janitors, faculty and staff can be utilized in cracking down on vaping in the bathrooms and even in classrooms, if they know what to look for, said School and Student Safety Specialist Rhett Larsen from the Utah State Board of Education.

But it’s hard, with so many new products designed to hide vaping through new designs of hoodies, backpacks, shoes, pens, flash drives and even shoes.

“They can look for even the smell like fruit or other fragrances like that. Because it can be hard to identify, is that perfume, or is that e-juice that has been vaped,” said Larsen.

Larsen says faculty and staff should do an Internet search for the latest products designed to hide vaping. Students can use the SafeUT app to report what they see.

State representative Susan Pulsipher told KSL Newsradio live on Tuesday morning that she has a new bill that would let school administrators know more specifically what they are allowed to do about it, including penalties for underage vaping on school property, confiscating and destroying devices they find.

Larsen says it needs to be talked about younger.

“We are looking at adding vaping and e-cigarettes as a curriculum component to the elementary school level, to expand substance abuse prevention in elementary,” he said. “As they go through the different grade levels, of course, the conversation and information increases. You start seeing the word vaping in third grade.”