Escape the Vape: Health officials in Cape Cod launch program to combat teen vaping

As students prepare to head back to school, health officials on the Cape are hoping to combat the vaping trend head-on.

They are doing so by educating some local bus drivers about the signs to spot in teens and young kids who are using the electronic devices.

"This isn’t something that it is just here and there and in between, we’re seeing it everywhere," said Kim Slade, substance use program manager for the Barnstable County of Human Services.

Slade spoke to more than 200 Cape bus drivers from the Cape Cod Collaborative.

"When we saw this explosion in vaping and started hearing the requests from so many of our schools and communities around, what can we do? How do we stop this?" she said.

The bus drivers were given pointers on what signs to look for in their kids -- things like coughing and hiding vapor inside water bottles. They were also told what type of devices to look out for when checking on their passengers in the rear-view mirror.

"It’s very alarming, from 2017-2018 there was a 50 percent increase in middle school youths who are using vapes and an 80 percent increase in high school youths using vapes," Slade said.

The campaign launching in September, called "Escape the Vape," will provide online tool-kits for parents and community members who want to tackle the epidemic head-on.

"I don’t think 12 is too young unfortunately, I think that it’s happening, we’re in junior high school [at] that age and next year they’re in high school so it’s coming," Slade added. "I think with vaping it’s just begun and no one really knows the long term effects and some of the medical risks they could be exposed to."

RELATED: Boston city councilors look to tackle teen vaping surge