Madison Central has installed vapor detectors in various bathrooms throughout the school to in an effort to deter high school students from using vaping products on schools grounds.

Principal Sean Brewer said the school is taking part in a pilot program for the new detectors, which alert members of the administration when it senses vapor from vape pens and other vaping devices.

Brewer said they tested several products over the summer and found that they work, although more testing is needed to determine their accuracy.

“We’re still early in the process,” Brewer said. “We’ve got a ways to go before they are 100 percent functioning correctly, but we think it’s a step in the right direction to eliminate vape usage campus-wide.”

The jury is still out on the long-term effects of vaping, but the addictive nature of the product is unquestionable.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in December a dramatic increase in teen use of vaping devices last year. It estimates that 37.3 percent of high school seniors reported using a vaping product in the past year, compared to just 27.8 percent in 2017.

Sale of vaping devices and juices to minors is illegal in Mississippi, but opponents say varieties that come in flavors like Skittles, strawberry and bananas are clearly targeted at a younger audience.

Brewer said it had been “a good long while” since any of the faculty had caught students smoking plain old cigarettes, but that vaping pens have been a problem.

Schools are taking similar steps to curb usage across the country.

“It’s still nicotine and it’s in a higher concentration that quickly creates an addiction,” Brewer said. “I can tell you we’re not the only ones who are looking at this. It’s a topic of conversation at every principals’ convention.”

The devices, called FlySense by Soter Technologies, can be used to deter bullying and fighting by sending a similar alert for drastic changes in noise level.