Can vaping detectors help reduce shocking school suspension numbers?

Students caught vaping at schools in Western Australia (WA) risk missing out on school camps, excursions, and even their school formal.

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

A 24-month trial of vaping detectors will run at 10 Western Australia schools, with WA Education Minister Tony Buti set to write to parents to outline the dangers of vaping.

“I’m concerned that some parents do not actually understand or appreciate that vaping is very dangerous to the health of their children,” he said.

Mr Buti said that teachers and principals were concerned that vaping was so prevalent, with students reporting the habit is on the rise.

“I’ve spoken to a number of student leaders who said that they now do not want to go into the toilets because of the amount of vaping in some of our schools,” he said.

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Vaping punishments

Students caught vaping at schools will risk missing out on a variety of activities, including school camps, excursions, and even their school formal, under a strict policy aimed at reducing the number of young people engaging in the unhealthy habit.

Education Minister Tony Buti said the new policy would ensure all WA’s public schools are in line. Previously, public schools in the state had been forced to develop individual strategies to deal with the growing health issue.

Four different measures sit within the policy, including the ‘loss of good standing’ for students caught in the act of vaping, or with a vape.

“If you lose good standing, that means you may not be able to go to graduation, school camps, or other extracurricular activities,” Mr Buti said.

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“We’re also ensuring there’ll be mandatory programs of education from years five to seven. What this will do is ensure that students, before they go to high school, are educated in the dangers of vaping.”

Vaping leads to 2000 student suspensions

In the past year, vaping-related issues have seen WA schools suspend more than 2000 students.

Education Department Director General Lisa Rogers said that the detectors will be placed in school toilets – locations where students typically congregate to vape.

Although many private schools in WA already enforced consequences for students caught vaping out of school but in their uniforms, it was very difficult for public schools to do the same.

“Students need to know that vapes are not healthy, they’re harmful, and we want them to make good decisions,” Ms Rogers said.

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]