NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – E-cigarettes in schools have become a huge issue for Middle Tennessee sheriffs and their SROs. Officers who patrol the hallways say vaping is on the rise and it’s a major health concern.

Years ago, e-cigs were bigger and bulkier. Now, most models are slim and can be easily hidden. Some even look like computer thumb drives.

Tony Pierce, the SRO Supervisor for Cheatham County Schools, says they have seen issues with vaping products all the way down on the elementary level, “We’ve had kids say they don’t want to go to the bathroom because kids are in there passing the Juul.”

Students as young as middle school are smuggling contraband in fake coke cans, inside hollowed-out deodorant containers, and even inside a book with a secret compartment.

Pierce says it’s not uncommon for students to get high in bathrooms, sometimes even in class, “kids are savvy enough, they can pull up and blow it down their sleeve.”

“It’s not like firing something up with a lighter,” Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland said. “They have a battery in it, you get a hit or two, get your high, go to class, and we have students under the influence.”

Sheriff Rowland is alarmed by what his deputies have seized in the last 2 years, including a huge amount of contraband collected from one high school alone. Maury County has opened as many vaping cases in one semester this year as all of last year.

He says this epidemic must be addressed immediately, “This the new millennium drug of choice for kids in schools. This is the pot when you were a kid on steroids times ten.”

All of this for a product where the long-term effects are still unknown. “We’ve got 12, 13, 14-year-old kids using these things,” said Pierce. “When they get 30 to 40 what kind of damage will be done to their lungs from this long-term exposure?”