A New Friend in the Bathroom


Jasmine Smith

Terra Linda’s new addition to bathrooms to curb students from vaping.

Jasmine Smith and Noah Handy

As many students are aware, vape usage is a huge issue in teenagers nationwide. Teenage culture has encouraged the use of vapes, as shown through a 2022 survey conducted through the CDC. The survey shows over two million high schoolers and middle schoolers have used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. Recently, Terra Linda has installed vape sensors, to help stop the use of vapes and for preventative use. 

As many students at Terra Linda know, there have been many issues with the fire alarms going off–sometimes up to twice in a day. Despite what rumors have said, this is not a result of vaping, and more of an issue with smoke and steam in the kitchens. Instead, vape sensors monitor the vape index, which is a score that represents smoking and vaping activity, in locker rooms and bathrooms. Alex Chapman, the Dean of Students, also stated that, “We are more focused on vaping prevention and education measures, rather than punishing students,” as he explained, many students are only at school for six hours a day, and therefore helping students decide for themselves to stop vaping is more essential. Although, teachers will confiscate devices and enforce these rules in classroom settings. 

These vape sensors are made by the brand, Verkada. It has many features including vape detection and other features include detecting humidity, motion, air quality, and noise. The device does not record conversations, but rather the decibel level throughout the day. The information is relayed to the staff through the Verkada dashboard, and can notify various staff members if it has detected someone vaping, specifically the Assistant Principal Maria Tinnel, Dean of Students Alex Chapman, and campus security. The dashboard is connected to 20 to 25 detectors and cameras throughout the campus, including bathrooms, locker rooms, and the kitchen. Cameras are faced near bathroom exits, so when the vape index changes, they could get an idea of who did it. Don’t worry if you’re an innocent bystander, they don’t rely on the cameras alone, assured Chapman. 

Vaping has serious consequences on an individual’s health, as it can lead to lung cancer, popcorn lung, and many other health issues. Many students are aware of these impacts, but don’t fully comprehend and understand how serious it is. 

While recognizing vaping is an issue everywhere, the school has mostly been focusing on educating students and using prevention measures, in which the vape sensors have made it easier for the school to monitor. 

At TL, Student Advocacy, a class where students can use restorative justice techniques to better the school, students are able to make presentations to spread awareness on the harmful effects of vaping, which they present to the freshman in Health classes and to staff. Kiki Chapman, a junior who is a member of Student Advocacy, is one of the many students presenting these slideshows, and they often do one-on-one restorative justice work. “Chemicals within these vapes are not FDA approved, and there are no laws to regulate them,” Kiki says. She explained the creation of the Tobacco Use Prevention Education, or TUPE, and they modified presentations from the Marin County Office of Education to present to students. 

Vaping has many consequences on teenagers and is unfortunately popular in every high school. In the future, the school is hoping to utilize these vape sensors to help with preventing the use of vapes and to educate students to make smarter choices down the road.