MARSHALL COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – What would you do if a friend handed you a piece of bubble gum? Probably take it, right? More than likely a kid would too. 

Now, what if instead of bubble gum, it was drugs flavored like bubble gum? 

7News gave you an inside look at the dangers of vaping inside our local schools, but now a group of prevention experts has a message for parents.

Urine and heroin found in vapes at West Virginia schools

 These drugs are in every community now. They’re not just in that neighborhood or in that group of folks. They are everywhere. They are in every school.

Stacy Bishop, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Northern District 

They’re everywhere and most parents may not even know it, but school officials do.

It doesn’t distinguish from a good kid or bad kid. It’s across the board. I’m sure kids on the National Honor Society are getting caught with this.

Cpl. Shawn Mayle, Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, School Resource Officer

So, they’ve become savvy about what to search for and school officials and prevention experts want parents to open their eyes to the issue. 

None of us are looking to raise kids that are drug users as adults. None of us want that for our kids.

Stacy Bishop, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Northern District 

First, parents should understand why vapes and other harmful drugs have become so appealing to students. Prevention experts explain they’re marked that way. 

Vapes and other drugs, that are legal to purchase if you’re over 21 are not regulated the way cigarettes are. 

Really for financial gain these companies have come on to the market with a vengeance with a product that intentionally circumvented all the existing tobacco legislation.

We had made so many strides with tobacco, but when these products came onto the market the circumvented all of the tobacco laws.

Lisa Ingram, WVU Extension Agent, Marshall County

Companies can easily target kids with internet ads on Snapchat or TickTok making fun flavors look cool. 

When you dangle things that are candy flavored um to children, they’re gonna become very appealing.

Lisa Ingram, WVU Extension Agent, Marshall County

Cpl. Mayle explains the different types of vapes students may be using in the video above.

It’s just the colors of the devices. Some of these look like cartoons and stuff that draws the attention of younger people.

If you thought the ads calling vaping a “safe alternative” to smoking were true, Ingram said they’re not.

Both prevention advocates and school personnel advise parents to search their kids belongings for the vape pens, which come in all shapes and sizes, including some that look like a flash drive. Also be on the lookout for candy that can contain THC. While at first glance it looks normal, a closer examination shows labels for THC and even Delta 8, which is a substance that’s not even regulated by the FDA.

I hear from kids all the time ‘it’s my privacy’, ‘that’s my privacy’. I tell kids you don’t get privacy. Until you pay for that phone yourself and you pay for that service yourself it’s mine.

Stacy Bishop, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Northern District 

Bishop said that kids are becoming savvy with how to use these substances and products undetected. She explained stories of students having the packages delivered to their friends homes so their parents don’t find it.

With drugs like marijuana, the smell can be an easy indicator for parents, but vapes are different.

If you know what marijuana smells like, it doesn’t smell like marijuana. It smells like bubblegum or peaches.

Cpl. Shawn Mayle, Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, School Resource Officer

If parents are concerned about what’s in a vape, Corporal Mayle explained there are test kits that they can purchase online. He said to search online for “Mobile Detect Pouches”.

Above all, experts advise, if your child asks you to purchase a vape for them, don’t. That’s the first way to stop the cycle of addiction before it starts. 

If you are purchasing this stuff for your children and your grandchildren, then shame on you because you’re just condoning the behavior and perpetuating the addiction.

Stacy Bishop, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Northern District 

Bishop also issued a request to retailers that sell vapes and other products legally. She asks that all employees be extra diligent about carding customers to make sure products aren’t being sold to those who are underage.

If the health concerns aren’t enough of a deterrent, vapes and the drugs in them carry consequences at school, or even with the law.

Corporal Mayle said being caught with THC or any other illegal substance in a vape not only could mean suspension or expulsion at school, but also charges like underage possession of a controlled substance or possession on school property.

It’ll follow them around for the rest of their life.

Cpl. Shawn Mayle, Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, School Resource Officer

If you are a parent who wants more information about vaping dangers, or would like a presentation on the dangers to be given to a group or club, contact Lisa Ingram at the WVU Extension Office in Marshall County. That number is 304-843-1170.