Volusia schools, sheriff’s office have plans to fight the vaping crisis

WESH2 | By Pamela Comme | June 17, 2024

The district saw a spike in vape-related incidents this year.

Vaping continues to be an issue in Central Florida schools, including Volusia.

“One of the things you always see with kids is they’re always looking to do whatever the cool thing is, right,” said Greg Turchetta, Volusia Schools PIO. “And no matter what and how many deterrents you put in place, the more you put deterrents in place, sometimes it becomes more attractive, and they find creative ways to get around it.”

The sheriff’s office is working with the district. They’ve added vape detectors to the high schools, and metal detectors have been made available, but students still find ways around it.

“The females in high school hide the vape pen in their bra,” said Sheriff Mike Chitwood. “And when the vape pen goes off, they’ll say they have an intimate piercing there. So nobody’s going to search it.”

This school year, between January and March, Volusia Schools handed out 521 referrals for vape-related incidents. Osceola had 322, Seminole 75, and Lake, 76.

“They pale in comparison to what’s going on in Volusia,” said Chitwood.

These numbers are alarming, which is why in August, they’re bringing back DARE, a school-based drug prevention program.

“You’re really not going to change too much behavior in high school, really not in middle school,” added Chitwood. “But if you can get them early enough in elementary to understand the dangers of vaping because these kids don’t get it.”

This week, the district began meeting with the State Attorney’s office, hoping to start strategic marketing campaigns and get messages, emails, and videos out to students about vaping.

The sheriff’s office is also continuing its undercover operations. Last week, they revealed 11 stores selling vape and tobacco to underage buyers.

This is one of a handful of other efforts to help combat the vaping crisis.

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