CHANDLER, AZ — Experts are sounding the alarm across the nation that vaping is leading to an entirely new generation of nicotine addiction. Health officials say it's all starting in middle school.
One school in Chandler is tackling the fight head on.
"They don't realize it can lead to more and more things that can be addicting," said Carsyn Christel.
The eighth-grade student would know because she's seen it first hand.
"People just skip class and then just go to the bathroom, and they vape, or sometimes they do it at lunch," said Christel.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, electronic cigarette use by middle schoolers is up 48 percent since just last year.
"On a daily basis we get a report about a student in possession of a vape, or vaping in the restroom, or vaping outside," said Kyrene Aprende Middle School Principal Renee Kory.
The new trend is posing major problems and stopping it has proved challenging.
"There isn't a cloud of smoke, they don't come in a pack, they're small like a USB port so they can hide them very easily," said Principal Kory.
But hiding what they're doing just got a lot harder.
"You look up here on the ceiling, there are two white boxes, those are our vape detectors," said Assistant Principal Carl Nasuta giving ABC15 a tour of a boy's bathroom.
Those detectors are now installed in every 7th and 8th-grade bathroom inside Kyrene Aprende Middle School. They've also installed them in frequented hallways and outside near lunch areas.
If the sensor detects vape smoke, an alert that includes a timestamp and bathroom location is immediately sent to administrators via text.
The consequences of getting caught could be severe.
Even if the student isn't caught red-handed, teachers can review security video to determine who was in the area when the sensors went off.
"We're still calibrating the sensors, so we have not decided on the discipline quite yet," said Nasuta.
Administrators hope with continued education about the dangers of vaping, along with this deterrent, they can snub out the smoke before it starts.
"It's really about ensuring that those kids begin to make better choices that can positively impact their future instead of negatively," said Kory.