NFA Installs New Detectors to Cut Down on Teen Vaping


Sara Keefe, Staff Writer

As the Norwich Free Academy welcomes students for the 165th academic year, new additions are being added to the campus. Before NFA opened its gates for students, the campus saw the installation of brand new, state of the art detectors designed to sense traces of vaporized chemicals around school grounds.  The campus safety department are hoping that the detectors will help prevent teenage vaping on campus.

  “They detect smoke from e- cigarettes, flavored ones, regular e -cigarettes, along with those that use THC,” said Campus Safety Director Wayne Sheehan. “In the grand scheme, we’re trying to eliminate teen use of e- cigarettes.” Vaping has become increasingly more popular with teens over the last few years, due to marketing tactics used by companies trying to appeal to a broader, younger audience. As the trend spreads throughout the country, new reports of deaths and mysterious lung illnesses have been on the rise.

  “They’re clearly not healthy. I’ve been saving stories that are occurring in the news to talk to students this year and next year about what’s happening. There’s been deaths reported from vaping; To the point, that the American Medical Association is now urging people to stop using e- cigarettes, and they’re going to push to ban their sales until they come under the FDA regulations.”

  “Originally, vaping was manufactured to reduce the risk of nicotine and also to reduce the risk of smoking in general,” said NFA nurse Gail Kulesza. “But I think that now more and more studies [are] showing that there are heavy metals in vape products. There are chemicals that are very damaging to your body. There’s still a lot of research that needs to be [done], but starting from a young age, of course, it’s going to do harm to your lungs, and I’m not sure what else it can harm.”

 The majority of vape products contain the highly addictive chemical nicotine. While being an extremely addictive substance, the effects nicotine has on the human body can be damaging, especially to teenage users. Despite the dangers that vaping brings, many teens are still using e-cigarettes and vape products.

  “You can become addicted just from peer pressure,” said school psychologist Arikka Kalwara. ‘Like hey! Let me try this.’ No one really knows when they become addicted. Sometimes it starts just as casual as that. ‘Oh I’m going to try this.’And sooner than later, it’s going to become, ‘Oh wait I’m going to try this again’ and again and again. And pretty soon, you’re in the lane of addiction.” 

 As the detectors arrive on campus, students have expressed mixed emotions about the installation. Some believe they are unnecessary and will not prevent students from vaping; while others, like upper Paige Buchan, believe that the detectors will benefit the school climate.

 “I think that they’re a good way to stop vaping because it has become a big problem among teens and especially at this school. So I think that it is a great way to eradicate the problem. Hopefully, this will get people to stop and help them regulate their health. I definitely think that the kids who do vape will be a little mad, but hopefully they will learn to stop, and to finally realize what they’re doing to themselves and just how bad it is for you. Because at this young of an age, you don’t want to be damaging your lungs.” 

 While many are for the installation, others, like lower Devin Norton, believe that the detectors will not stop students from vaping. “In my personal opinion, I don’t think they [the detectors] will change anything, kids will always find a way.”

 As students begin to settle into a new school year, Campus Safety remains confident that the detectors will bring a new and positive atmosphere to the NFA campus.