EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Anthony Independent School District (AISD) is taking a high-tech approach to stopping teens from vaping on school grounds.

Starting in 2022, the district will install e-cigarette sensors in several areas within Anthony High School and the middle school.

The devices were installed in response to growing health concerns about vaping among teens across the country.

Anthony ISD Communications Coordinator Adriana Candelaria said the sensor works by detecting e-cigarette emissions in the air, regardless of the size of the space.

“When an e-cig release is detected, the sensor sends a notification to safety personnel and the school principal, who can then go to the location where the e-cig picks up the e-cigarette release,” Candelaria said. Ta.

Candelaria said that before the sensors are installed, schools must rely on “suspicion” or “information” about students allegedly vaping on school grounds.

Research conducted by the Mayo Clinic shows that smoking electronic cigarettes (also known as vaping) is associated with health conditions such as breathing problems, organ damage, addiction, and other health problems.

According to the Mayo Clinic, e-cigarettes and cigarettes are known to be addictive and contain harmful chemicals.

Over the years, many types of e-cigarettes have appeared. One of them involves cartridges containing THC, or cannabis.

Katrina Ayala, a juvenile attorney with the El Paso County Attorney's Office, said she has seen cases of youth as young as 10 vaping.

Per federal regulations, the legal age to purchase e-cigarette products in Texas is 21 years old. Ayala said the teens caught with THC vaping are considered state felonies. She said it could lead to bigger consequences if a student is found carrying one on school property.

“If we know it's inside a school, that effectively increases the crime to a third-degree felony,” Ayala said. The more grams an animal is arrested, the more serious the felony, Ayala said.

She urges parents to be aware of their children's social media accounts and the specific coded language that teens may be using. “Social media is probably the number one tactic used to market across El Paso County schools,” Ayala said. “Certain emojis may contain hidden messages. The Shopping Her Cart emoji represents a cart. That's what we call a THC pen cartridge.”

Soter Technologies, a provider of sensor technology and software solutions, will present Anthony ISD with the Soteria National Leadership Award on Thursday, April 18, for its efforts to reduce vaping among youth.

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