Issues register

EdTech Assessment Toolkit

Vaping Identification (Australia)

Biometric model

Vape Detection Australia offers a sophisticated system to prevent students from vaping in school bathrooms. The company assures that its system acts as an effective deterrent and protects students from the risk of ‘passive vaping’. The vape detectors are installed in bathrooms and respond to the chemical fumes of electronic cigarettes. Vape detectors operate similarly to smoke detectors but are specifically designed to detect the chemical components and aerosols associated with e-cigarettes. When activated, these detectors can notify school authorities, assisting them in enforcing school policies against vaping and maintaining a healthier school environment.

In essence, vape detection devices are not much different from other forms of environmental control, such as a fire alarm. However, there are several issues associated with the use of vape detectors. They raise concerns about student privacy if detectors are connected to CCTV (see Mae Beers, 2021), and their effectiveness can be compromised if students discover ways to evade detection (Harrison, 2019). It’s also worth mentioning that the mere presence of detectors might not suffice to deter vaping; education regarding the risks of e-cigarette use is also a crucial component of any prevention strategy.

Snapshot (July 2023)

System task/function: Vaping identification
Model: Biometric (If linked to CCVT & facial recognition)
Deployment: Fume and identity monitoring
Location of application: Various schools (e.g., Geelong, Australia)
Rationale for introduction: Deter students from vaping in bathroom stalls
Vendor: E.g., Vape Detection Australia, Halo Detect
Pricing: up to $2000AUD per unit
Data and computation: Vape detector and CCTV footage
Inequalities/harms: Privacy risks and security concerns
Status: Active in private schools in NSW, VIC & Canberra (Australia), planned roll out across NSW public schools
Authority/regulation: School level
Unintended consequences: Students may seek other places to vape that are more dangerous environments.
Sanction/redress: N/A

References/further reading

Department-of-Education. (2022). What you need to know about vaping. Retrieved from

Harris, C. (2023). The plan to purchase 40,000 vape detectors for public school toilets. Retrieved from

Harrison, S. (2019). How Wily Teens Outwit Bathroom Vape Detectors. Retrieved from

Mae Beers, L. (2021). Victorian schools install sensors that are able to send a text alert to staff to catch students vaping Retrieved from–c-3376741