Tackle vaping in your school with integrated security solutions

school students standing by lockers

In recent years, the rise of e-cigarettes and vaping has been cause for concern among educators and parents. While vaping was initially perceived as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, recent studies have shown that the long-term health effects of vaping are still largely unknown. 

A joint 2021 survey of secondary school students conducted by Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand (ARFNZ) and the Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand (SPANZ) reveals just how significant the vaping problem among students has become.

Of the over 19,000 student participants:

  • 26% of students said they had used e-cigarettes in the past week
  • Of those, nearly 20% reported vaping daily or multiple times throughout the day
  • Over 50% said their use of e-cigarettes had increased in the last year, including the use of higher nicotine products

With the growing popularity of vaping among young people, it’s more important now than ever for schools to educate students about the risks associated with vaping and promote the importance of health and wellbeing.

But to be effective, educational methods need to be innovative and memorable enough to connect with a student body who may not be receptive to the message.

One such tool that can be used to create these tangible, teachable moments around vaping is the Halo sensor, a small device that measures air quality and provides real-time data about pollutants such as particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide.

The Halo sensor can be integrated with schools’ existing Gallagher solutions, enabling air quality results to be instantly forwarded to administrators who can then identify the location and nature of the vaping (eg: whether THC is present, etc.) and jumpstart constructive conversations with students.

And because the sensor merely measures air quality without the use of cameras or other identifying technologies, student privacy is protected, creating a safe space to foster those conversations without pointing fingers.

When used in a school setting, Halo sensors can provide concrete, measurable data that students can see with their own eyes, arming educators with a more effective teaching tool than relying on abstract concepts or statistics alone.

Here are just a few ways that Halo sensors can be used to educate students about the risks of vaping and promote health and wellbeing in schools.

  1. Demonstrating the presence of second-hand vapor
    Many students will already be aware of the dangers associated with second-hand smoke from traditional cigarettes, but Halo sensors enable educators to demonstrate to students just how far vaping aerosols can travel. This helps students understand the wide range that potential harm can reach, even if they aren’t directly using e-cigarettes themselves.

  2. Comparing chemicals in traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes
    Many students believe that vaping is a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes, but the truth is that e-cigarettes can still contain harmful substances. Halo sensors can be used to compare the aerosols emitted from vaping versus traditional cigarettes to demonstrate similarities in chemical compounds and risks to health. Seeing a direct link to cigarettes can be an eye-opening experience for students who believe the false narratives around vaping safety.

  3. Encourage critical thinking
    Challenging students to question their perceptions of vaping is an excellent real-life exercise in teaching critical thinking. For example, teachers could pose questions such as “What are some potential health risks associated with vaping?” or “Why is vaping considered a safer alternative to cigarettes when our data suggests otherwise?”

    When a Halo sensor detects the presence of vaping in a school, the results collected from the incident can be presented to students to help draw conclusions based on observations while still protecting student privacy. This type of inquiry-based learning can help students develop important critical thinking skills and become more engaged in their own learning about health and wellbeing.

  4. Providing a visual representation of indoor air quality
    Because Halo sensors provide a real-time visual representation of indoor air quality, teachers can show students just how quickly the air quality in a room can change in the presence of vaping.

    For example, when a Halo report is generated, educators can anonymously share the results of that report with students and demonstrate the presence and spread of aerosols that disrupt air quality. This can be a powerful visual tool for students that helps them understand the impact of their own actions on their environment and others around them.

  5. Promoting healthy behaviors
    All of this – the reports, the anonymity, and the awareness detection brings – enables educators to start conversations with students about the potential health risks associated with vaping in a non-confrontational way. This can help students understand that their choices have consequences not just to them, but to others around them, encouraging students to take ownership of their own behaviors and consider how their actions affect others.

Discouraging vaping can feel like an uphill battle for educators, but the Halo sensor integrated with Gallagher’s school security solutions can be a valuable tool to help promote health and wellbeing initiatives in a clear, effective, and tangible way. And the teachable moments created by these sensors not only helps build healthy bodies, but can reinforce critical thinking, inquiry-based learning, and conscientious behaviors to build stronger minds. 

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