5 million middle and high school kids are using e-cigarettes; here’s how to spot the signs

Updated: Jan. 30, 2020 at 11:22 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Teachers across the country are faced with the challenge of looking for students’ hidden vaping devices. They’re being disguised in clothing, accessories and school supplies.

Sometimes, the devices are filled with marijuana and other drugs.

The numbers are daunting. More than 5 million middle and high school kids are using e-cigarettes, according to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

19 News met with a group of area teachers who couldn’t believe some of the ways students are stashing vapes in school.

Barberton's Superintendent, Jeffrey Ramnytz, allowed us inside the high school to show teachers some items we purchased. We wanted to see if they would ever suspect anything.

“Typically, they will go in the bathrooms or somewhere where they know they’re not seen," school resource officer, Marty Eberhart, said.

Some students are more obvious than others by vaping in the middle of a packed hallway.

Debbie Bail, a long-time hallway monitor said, “You see them put something up to their mouth and you can see vaguely something, but some of them there’s very little smoke.”

Officer Eberhart allowed us to give four students one item that we purchased online, of course without the actual vape.

First, we told the four adults that two students were wearing something suspicious.

Tony Gotto said, “She’s got the tassels hanging out of her sweatshirt. I’ve heard stories of them never seen them, because I know what we’re here for, it looks suspicious, but I wouldn’t think it was suspicious in class.”

The other items in question, were a watch and two pens. The pens were identical, but they only labeled one suspicious.

“We would never think anything about it. just a normal pen to me, but because we know that’s what we’re looking for, it kind of settles things out,” said Gotto. Officer Eberhart says the scariest thought is, “What are they vaping?”

“You may say, “My son, I don’t allow him to use marijuana.” Maybe he doesn’t, but he could be vaping THC and you’re not going to know. It’s marijuana, but it doesn’t smell like marijuana because it’s in a vape,” said Eberhart.

Eberhart says the only way to know is to take the item and have it tested by law enforcement. For all these reasons, he said Barberton is taking an aggressive approach in educating students about the dangers of drugs and vaping.” “We believe in showing our kids the harsh realities.

Eberhart says some students are listening and speaking up. “The teens are starting to worry about each other and they’re like, ‘Man you shouldn’t be doing that,’ and that’s huge,” said Eberhart.

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