WILSON CO., Tenn. (WKRN) — School resource officers are calling it the fastest-growing issue they’re dealing with in schools, vaping.

They say younger students are getting their hands on vape pens, and the distraction it causes at school is getting out of hand. 

Captain Scott Moore with the Sheriff’s Office is in charge of the SROs in Wilson County.

He addressed the issue of vaping in schools. “I would call it more of an explosion than a rise.”

Three years ago the county started keeping records of the number of vape pens confiscated on school grounds.

“We started off with confiscating 244 vapes the first year. The next year it went up 4, which is not a huge increase.” He continued, “We’re already on pace to blow past last year’s total. I see it pushing 275 to 300.”

A majority of confiscated vape pens have been taken from high schoolers but, the trend is growing in middle school as well. 

This entire situation has been likened to tobacco use in teenagers in the 90s but it’s even more concerning for law enforcement. 

“The X factor between vaping and let’s say smoking a standard cigarette is you’re doing it longer than you would a standard cigarette,” Captain Moore said.

E-cigarettes and similar products are illegal for anyone under the age of 21.

Hiding them has never been easier.

“We’ve seen students who have hoodies with the drawstrings that fall down, that’s got a built-in compartment, where you can put a vape in and you just put it up to your mouth in the classroom,” he said.

Captain Moore is warning parents to stay vigilant, talk to your kids. If you think they have not been exposed to vaping, well, chances are they already have.

Help your teen quit by contacting the Tennessee Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or text “quit” to (615) 795-0600 or visit this link right now.