Principal: E-cigarettes triggered fire alarm

Posted at 6:53 PM, Dec 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-07 21:53:37-05

SAN DIEGO - A local high principal sent a letter home to parents after incidents in a school bathroom triggered the school's fire alarm twice in one week.

Last week, the fire alarm at San Dieguito High School Academy went off because a smoke alarm inside a gender-neutral bathroom was triggered.

"We had no damage in the bathrooms. We didn't smell the smoke. In one instance, we found a bottle of the vaping juice," said San Dieguito High School Academy Principal Bjorn Paige.

The so-called "e-juice" is a liquid used in e-cigarettes or vaping.

Billed as a way to quit smoking, vaping's health risks continue to be debated. The makers of the battery operated cigarette maintain it contains no tar or carbon monoxide.

However, health advocates maintain the second-hand risks are just as bad as with cigarettes.

"It's pretty common at this school," said a student named Mark. "Since it's not tobacco or cigarettes, they think it's a good alternative."

Mark also said another motivation is doing vape tricks with the smoke.

Researchers say usage among teens has doubled -- and sometimes tripled -- every year since 2009. A 2014 study that appeared in the medical journal Pediatrics says about 25 percent to 29 percent of high school students have tried e-cigarettes.

Other studies report teens that vape are more likely to smoke. Research also points to teens vaporizing marijuana in the e-cigarette devices, which can make it more potent.

In response, Paige sent home a letter about the incidents and is planning a January information session to educate parents.

"It's something that doesn't have a place on a school campus at all," said Paige.

Paige said a few e-cigarettes have been confiscated. When that happens, the parents are contacted, but a student is not suspended.