GLEN ROCK, NJ – Vapers beware.

Beginning in mid-October, the Glen Rock School District will place vaping detectors in the form of small fire alarms in the restrooms of Glen Rock High School.

The decision comes on the heels of a survey circulated by the school administration, which found that 30 percent of high school students did not feel safe in the restrooms due to student vaping, Schools Superintendent Brett Charleston said. 

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Vaping is perhaps the 21stCentury equivalent of smoking cigarettes in the bathroom; the only difference is the act involves inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by e-cigarettes typically containing nicotine, or other illegal substances. While Charleston did not quantify the number of vaping cases that have occurred at the high school, he acknowledged via email that “vaping is an issue in schools across New Jersey and the country” and that Glen Rock was “no different.”

Vaping is increasingly becoming a nationwide problem, as the death toll from lung disease precipitated by vaping continues to climb. During a press conference on September 12, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that he had signed an executive order creating a multi-departmental electronic smoking device task force, which will identify and recommend actions to be taken on both an administrative and legislative level to safeguard New Jersey residents and students from the hazards of vape pens in the coming weeks. Acting Commissioner Judy Persichilli, who is also a nurse, will chair this task force in addition to the Attorney General’s Office, Murphy said. Their findings will be reported on Thursday, October 3, Murphy announced. 

U.S. health officials have identified a reported 450 possible cases of breathing illnesses linked to vaping – three of which were deaths – in 33 states including New Jersey. 

“The only safe alternative to smoking is not smoking,” said Murphy, adding that New Jersey is among a growing number of states that seek to address vaping cases associated with lung disease.

Locally, at the Glen Rock School District, it has been reported by the previous superintendent during board meetings over the last two years that vaping incidents have taken place at the school. Charleston said the administration will determine to purchase additional vaping detection devices for installation throughout the high school after a thorough review of the data collected from the pilot.