TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — About 1 in every 5 high school students reported they used electronic cigarettes in a 30 day period last year. That's according to the CDC.
"There are a lot of dab pens, which is like marijuana," said Lafayette Jeff Junior Draiden Robinette. "Juul was a big one, but I haven't seen those in years."
Robinette said vaping is a common habit in his school.
"It's super common," he explained. "Like in the bathrooms during the breaks and stuff."
It doesn't stop in the bathrooms. Robinette said it's happening in classrooms too.
"They have it in their hoodies and they just, like, take a hit off it and then they blow the smoke into their hoodies or they swallow it," Robinette said.
Tippecanoe School Corporation Student Resource Officer Aaron Gilman said he isn't surprised.
Lafayette Jeff Principal Mark Preston said it's a problem there too.
"I would say on a normal year, non-COVID, it's probably a couple of times a week that we deal with it," Preston said. "Those would be the situations in which we're able to catch the student or be made aware of. It doesn't mean it's not going on that we're not aware of it."
However, Gilman said it's not just happening at the high school level.
"We actually have seen it at the middle school level as well," Gilman explained.
When a student is caught both corporations said it's handled at an administrative level with disciplinary action. Then, the SRO issues the student a citation.
However, both corporations are taking steps to educate students about the effects of vaping among teens.
"We've got a relationship with our health teachers and we try to get in there for at least that section of their classes so we can talk with them specifically about the down and dirty on vaping," Gilman said.
Gilman and Preston said education should continue at home.
"I think it's really important to communicate with your kids and have that open dialogue is most important," said Preston.
"It really does fall on parents to step up and really be engaged in what their kids are doing," added Gilman. "To ask questions."
What if you've asked the questions and still worry your teen is vaping?
Here are a few things you can look for:
- Check your teen's car for not just the device, but the pods and coils or even garbage from packaging.
- Unusual chargers can also be a sign.
- Gilman also encourages parents to educate themselves on the different types of devices available.
"Once you become familiar with it, you know what to look for now," Gilman said.
However, it's not just illegal, it can be dangerous. According to the CDC, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. The highly addictive chemical can harm adolescent brain development. Also, some ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol can cause lung damage in the long-term.
These are risks that Robinette takes seriously, which is why he says no to vaping.
"My mom is a nurse," Robinette said. "So, she shows me articles and stuff and talks to me about like actual real-life scenarios that she's had, and how it leads to stuff that's like not good."
The West Lafayette Community School Corporation told News 18 they have less than 10 vaping related incidents annually.
Discipline ranges from citation to suspension.
Coming up Thursday on News 18 at six, a local doctor discusses the health risks associated with teen vaping.
We'll also hear from a local vape shop owner and what he's doing to keep his products out of teenage hands.