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Vaping in schools remains a top concern for administrators, police


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HERRIMAN — Administrators and police said vaping remains a top concern for Utah’s schools due, in part, to how accessible devices are and how easily they can be concealed.

“These are really easy to get,” said Detective Larsen, a school resource officer with the Herriman Police Department.

Long after the final bell rang and students cleared the halls, the shared concern about vaping lingered at Providence Hall High School Monday night.

Principal Nathan Marshall joined the principal of a nearby junior high school, Larsen and parents for a meeting where the number of vaping products presented far outnumbered the attendees.

“It is something that as a community we need some help with,” said Marshall, who has worked at Providence Hall High since it opened in 2014. “We find that students who are engaged in these kinds of activities tend to struggle not only at school but at home.”

Vaping has been a top concern at schools in Utah for months and during that time, school administrators have struggled with how to help educate students.

But keeping these products out of the hands of students has proven to be more and more difficult.

“This is an actual watch. They just stick it on their wrist like this and it looks just like a watch,” Larsen said. But take off the wrist band and the watch can be used as another vape product. “They make them that look like Sharpies. You wouldn’t even know it. They say Sharpie on the side of it.”

Det. Larsen holds up a watch that can also be used as a vaping device Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. Photo: KSL TV
Det. Larsen holds up a watch that can also be used as a vaping device Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. Photo: KSL TV

Larsen said all students must need to do to get a hold of the vape products is jump on their phones.

“We buy it. They don’t ID us. We gather it up. We leave and sell it to our friends,” Larsen said he’s heard from students. “We find this on Snapchat and someone will home deliver a puff bar to me.”

The easiness of it all can be most difficult for parents to hear.

“It just seems like there’s no way as parents we can stay ahead of this,” said one woman as she looked through the vape products.

Larsen admitted things are more complex nowadays, especially compared to when he and other parents were in school.

This isn't like when we were in high school. This is way more sophisticated.

–Detective Larsen

“This isn’t like when we were in high school,” he said. “This is way more sophisticated.”

Marshall said part of their initiative to help curb the problem is to install “vape detectors” in areas like bathrooms and locker rooms where students often vape. The detectors don’t have an audible alarm but would alert school administrators with a text message.

“It’s a big emphasis,” said Marshall, referring to their efforts to keep vape products out of schools. “I think it’s going to require some efforts from everyone.”


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Matt Rascon


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