Vape detectors coming to Niagara Region schools

Thirty per cent of youth between the ages of 15 and 19 tried vaping in 2022, at an age when they’re not allowed to legally purchase any tobacco products. Photo Credit: iStock.

Major changes for Niagara Region’s schools are in the works while students are gone for the summer, as plans are underway to install vape detectors and implement additional security upgrades.

The District School Board of Niagara and the Niagara Catholic District School Board both plan to install vape detectors and security cameras at all of Niagara Region’s schools. These changes were triggered by new safety rules being enforced by the Ford government come September.

In April, former education minister Stephen Lecce announced sweeping new measures to limit cellphones in the classroom and improve safety in Ontario’s schools. One key pillar of Lecce’s program includes installing vape detectors in schools across the province to try to curtail rising vape use among Ontario’s youth.

“Every parent and teacher we speak to has shared the growing problem of cellphone distractions in class during instructional time, in addition to the disturbing rise of vaping in schools amongst our youth,” said Lecce. “We need to be bold. We need to be comprehensive. And we need to act with urgency today.”

One of the triggers for the province to focus on curtailing vaping in schools is the fact that vaping use among youth has increased significantly in recent years. Thirty per cent of youth between the ages of 15 and 19 tried vaping in 2022, at an age when they’re not allowed to legally purchase any tobacco products. 

Twice as many Canadians between the ages of 15 and 19 admit to vaping (30 per cent) compared to Canadians over 25 (15 per cent).

Part of Lecce’s announcement included $30 million to fund school safety, money which is being used in part to help install vape detectors in schools province-wide. These detectors will be installed in hallways and washrooms. The detectors will send notifications to school staff via an app if vaping is detected. 

One million dollars from the funding package Lecce announced in April includes funds to partner with School Mental Health Ontario to develop online seminars and other resources for students and parents to learn about the dangers and long-term impacts of vaping and cellphone use. 

Beginning in the fall, parents of all students caught vaping will be notified and all vaping products will be confiscated.  

The District School Board of Niagara has told multiple media outlets that vaping in washrooms is of particular concern in high schools. 

Nurses will be on hand to help secondary students who want to cut down on vaping or quit altogether, as the province’s measures not only focus on enforcement but also on helping those who currently vape try to quit the habit. 

All of these new rules and supports will be in place once students return to school in the fall. 

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