Whitehall City Schools officials say they haven't seen a discernible increase in vaping among students in the district, but they remain diligent in educating students about the potential perils of vaping -- the use of electronic cigarettes.

E-cigarettes, which come in various flavors, often are marketed as an alternative to traditional tobacco products, but some sources, including the U.S. attorney general, have pointed out that they still contain addictive nicotine, and that the secondhand vapor can harm others.

Vaping falls under the district's tobacco-free policy, which prohibits its use on school property, said Superintendent Brian Hamler.

"(We) have a duty to protect and promote the health and well-being of both students and staff," Hamler said. "Our staff does an amazing job of monitoring and educating our students (about district policy and health care), which includes vaping."

Vaping is treated the same as tobacco when it comes to school policy, said Ty Debevoise, director of communications and marketing for Whitehall schools.

"It is prohibited on school grounds by both students and staff alike," he said.

Some central Ohio districts, such as Hilliard City Schools and Olentangy Local Schools, have purchased and installed vaping detectors in restrooms.

Whitehall has yet to take that step, Debevoise said.

Wendy Siegel, a licensed school nurse for Whitehall schools, said she has not witnessed an increase in such illnesses as asthma that is a typical harbinger of a vaping epidemic.

"I think if we began seeing such cases increase, or other signs, we would consider (detectors)," Siegel said.

School board President Mike Adkins said although vaping is a concern and a potential problem, vaping detectors might not be the most cost-effective solution.

"I think vaping is a problem everywhere, but it's a matter of having the funds to purchase these vaping detectors," Adkins said.

In Hilliard, Stacie Raterman, director of communications for the district, said the district purchased three vaping detectors and a vendor donated additional units.

Hilliard Superintendent John Marschhausen told board members in September that the district had acquired the vaping detectors for about $3,000.

They were to be used on a trial basis at the district's three high schools, he said.

"Vaping has quickly turned into a significant health issue, impacting not only the users, but potentially also others sharing a small space with someone using a vaping device. ... The installation of these detectors is a prudent measure in the effort to protect students while they're on school grounds," Hilliard school board President Paul Lambert said last month.

Similarly, in Olentangy schools, vaping detectors are being installed in every restroom in the district's four high schools, at a cost of more than $63,000.

"We are still having students doing harmful things to their bodies in our school buildings," said Randy Wright, Olentangy's chief of administrative services. "Existing rules and education haven't been enough."

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