“There is just this smell of vape all the time and it’s just really gross,” Year 11 student from Sacred Heart College in Geelong, Eleanor Naylor said.
The Catholic girls college is one of many across the state equipped with the vaping sensors, which aim to detect and deter kids from inhaling the harmful chemicals.
“We started noticing that it was coming on site and we want to keep our students safe,” Sacred Heart College Deputy Principal, Catherine Gulli said.
The sensors are being installed in toilets, and alarms in them send an alert to teachers, which with the help of CCTV, can identify students who are most at risk from vape smoke.
Some educators think teenagers may have picked up vaping as a habit as a way of dealing with the lockdowns.
“They can’t go an hour without vaping and it’s really disruptive to their learning,” Ms Gulli said.
Some students say their friends are addicted to vaping.
“[I] had a friend, she used to vape in class every now and then. We’d be working on a project, and she would just bring out her vape,” Ms Naylor said.
Medical experts say the puff bars or disposable vapes, which come in bright colours and fruity and dessert flavours, can be appealing to children.
“It is highly sad to see some of the addictive behaviours developing in some children some as young as primary school aged,” Director of the National Child Health Poll at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Dr Anthea Rhodes said.
Vaping is considered a healthier option for adults who are trying to quit smoking.
But now minors are illegally buying them under the counter and some even dealing them in the school yard.
“This is the enemy. This is what’s getting kids addicted. It’s too high, too concentrated,” Nick from The Geelong Vape Co said. Kids are buying products labelled as nicotine free, but they actually contain traces of the highly addictive substance.
A single pod of vape juice is equal to a pack of cigarettes.
Dr Rhodes says consuming nicotine can present “significant risks” to the lungs and airways of children and young teenagers.
As schools are working to stop students from vaping, there are calls for vapes to be better regulated, subjected to tougher advertising laws and stamped with warning labels.
Since October, adults have been required to have a prescription to buy a vape containing nicotine.