MELBOURNE , Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Fruity flavors and hardly any leftover scent are just a couple of reasons why young people are attracted to vaping, authorities say.
Teenagers are sneaking vaping devices into schools in Brevard County, where being caught with a vape pen means suspension. If there's marijuana oil inside, it could result in expulsion.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every five high school students in America is vaping -- more than 3 million. In Brevard County, school officials say it’s gotten so bad, vaping is the most common reason for expulsion, and it’s not just nicotine products going into the devices, sometimes it’s THC.
“We will catch students with a vape multiple times a week, but that’s just the ones we catch, mind you,” said Chad Kirk, Principal at Melbourne High School.
Kirk says if one of his students is caught vaping- they receive a civil citation from the Melbourne Police Dept and they are suspended, but if there's a cannabis product involved- expulsion is on the table because it’s a felony.
“It’s kind of become a very popular thing for kids to try and a gateway into other drugs,” Kirk said.
The Brevard Sheriff’s Office has trained one of their K9 units- a dog named Sonic- to detect vape pens. In a year’s time, school officials say the vaping habit has been a factor in the spike in smoking related suspensions across the county-from 40 to 206.
“One of the things we fear right now is, we don’t know what the long-term health consequences are, or what they put in this Vape liquid, just like we didn’t know know what the consequences were from smoking cigarettes in the 50s, it’s the same thing with this, we just want them to be safe,” Kirk said.
That's the conversation Sandra Rincon is having with her twelve year old son. When her now 20-year-old son was a teen, she said she could smell smoke on clothes. Now, since detecting it is so tricky, she says the talk shouldn't be "one and done." Rather, she says she’ll reinforce it every chance she gets.
“He has to say ‘no’ and the best advice will come from us, from the parents, give them the right advice, they will have the right information, and they will know what to do,” Rincon said.
One manufacturer of vaping products has canceled it’s Facebook and Twitter accounts after criticism it was marketing to teens. On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement pressuring federal officials to tighten the industry up.