Skip to content


Vaping on Campus a Concern for EHS Administrators, Students

(Illustration by Alivia Tupper / Falcon News)

Many schools around the country have seen a large increase in the number of students who vape or smoke on campus, and Elmira High School is no exception. Chances are that if you’re a student, you have seen or heard about students vaping or smoking — or maybe even done it yourself. With the ease of access to e-cigarettes and vaping pens, schools have been forced to act.

At Elmira, Principal Rick Gardner told Falcon News that more than two dozen students have been written up for vaping and smoking-related problems this school year.

“It fluctuates. Typically it comes in waves,” Assistant Principal Joel Smith said.

In an effort to crack down on the problem on campus, staff members have volunteered to patrol the restrooms during their breaks and prep periods. In addition, school officials have looked into installing sensors that detect tobacco and marijuana vapes, including in the restrooms near the courtyard that are expected to be remodeled this summer.

The sensors “send a notification to whoever you determine, and can also talk through it,” Smith said.

This chart from a Falcon News survey shows EHS student responses to the question: “How often do you see vaping occur on campus?”

In a survey conducted by Falcon News, about 29.4% of students who responded said they witnessed vaping on campus once a day, 18.6% said they see vaping on campus two times or more a day, 8.8% reported seeing it five times or more a day and 11.8% reported seeing it 10 or more times a day. However, 31.4% indicated never seeing it.

“Kids need to take control back of their spaces,” Smith said. “We have rows of bathrooms, but people can’t use those bathrooms because people are doing things in there that they shouldn’t be doing. … I get that nobody wants to be a snitch, but at the same time I want to empower the strong voices in our community, the good voices, the ones that are trying to do things the right way.”

When asked how vaping around campus has affected them, 41 out of 104 respondents said it hasn’t really affected them directly and they just mind their business. There were multiple people who said they’re afraid to go into the bathroom now because they don’t want to get in trouble for other people vaping.

Students also were asked whether they thought vaping around campus was a problem. Out of 104 responses, 59 said yes, 27 said no and 18 others provided “other” responses.

When asked where vaping occurred the most, 42 people said the bathrooms and 62 said a mix of other places, including classrooms and the foyer by the front office.

People being so addicted they’re willing to vape and smoke in class shows the hold that tobacco has on some students.

However, student vaping isn’t just an Elmira issue. Some studies show that one in seven U.S high school students vape, and that number is only getting bigger as time goes on. U.S. News reported about this study that found that about 2.5 million middle school and high school students reported that they had vaped in the past 30 days in early 2022 — which equals 14.1% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students.

Later that year, the FDA’s federal data from the Annual National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that more than 3 million middle and high school students reported vaping and tobacco use as of 2022.

A few years back there was a large increase over the course of one year. In that year high school students using vape in school has seen a dramatic increase in just one year. In 2018 37.3% of 12th graders reported vaping, but just one year prior in 2017 only 27.8% of students reported vaping.