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How Public Organizations Can Use the Tobacco Grant Program to Reduce Student Vaping

August 19, 2022

Underage tobacco use is a major concern in the United States. The FDA found that 13.4% of high school students use tobacco products, with 2.06 million middle and high school students reporting that they use e-cigarettes. Smoking and vaping are on the rise among minors, with e-cigarettes like JUUL at the forefront of what’s been called a youth vaping epidemic.

These FDA statistics are concerning, but they include a hopeful message: nearly two-thirds of students (65.3%) reported that they were “seriously thinking about quitting” the use of all tobacco products.

Every day, schools and local organizations have a real opportunity to help students and youth reduce their tobacco use. In this blog post, we’ll discuss one of the resources that public organizations can use to address student smoking, vaping, and tobacco use: the Tobacco Grant Program.  We’ll also discuss how schools can use environmental sensors like the Rhombus E2 to automatically detect smoking and vaping with actionable video evidence.

What is the Tobacco Grant Program?

The Tobacco Grant Program is a California program that provides grant funds to local organizations, with the goal of reducing the use of cigarettes and tobacco products among minors.

The Tobacco Grant is a recurring program that has distributed $151 million in funding since it was established in 2017. Organizations that receive the grant are typically funded for 24 or 36 months.

How do I apply and receive funds from the Tobacco Grant Program?

The Tobacco Grant Program is a reimbursement grant. To apply, eligible organizations submit their application to the California Department of Justice. Applications must include:

  • An explanation of how your organization will use grant funds to reduce underage tobacco use and create a healthier California
  • Budget breakdown of how your organization intends to use grant funds to achieve this

If your organization receives funds from the Tobacco Grant, the California Department of Justice will reimburse you for “approved expenditures upon receipt of invoices.”

Who is eligible for the Tobacco Grant Program?

If you are a public organization in California that takes action to reduce youth tobacco use, you may be eligible to receive funding from the Tobacco Grant Program.

To apply for the grant, you must be a local public agency in California that has the authority to enforce tobacco-related state laws.

Eligible organizations include:

  • Cities and counties
  • Public K-12 school districts
  • Public college districts
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • City attorneys and county counsels
  • Partnerships between local law enforcement and local school districts

How Can Local Organizations Use Funds from the California Tobacco Grant Program?

When it comes to student vaping and tobacco use, public school districts—and any agencies that partner with school districts—are expected to use grant funds for restorative or supportive programs, rather than for simply catching and punishing students who are vaping or smoking on campus.

Grant funds can go to activities including:

  • Preventing the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors, including e-cigarettes and vaping products
  • Ensuring that banned flavors are not distributed
  • Prevent and deter smoking, vaping, and tobacco use at schools
  • Educational programs to deter student vaping (for more on this, see the TUPE program)
  • Public education outreach
  • Creating awareness and education campaigns that are designed by youth and students

Environmental Sensors: Detect Smoke and Vape with Actionable Video Evidence

Schools and public organizations have a variety of resources to deter and reduce tobacco use among students. Among these tools are smoke and vape detectors. These sensors give schools a powerful way to identify who is smoking/vaping as well as when and where.

Armed with this information, schools can take action to reduce student tobacco use. Administrators can make intelligent interventions and provide more effective education and support to the students who need it.

How the E2 Environmental Sensor Helps Schools Combat Smoking, Vaping, and Tobacco Use

Rhombus’ E2 Environmental Sensor is uniquely suited to help schools detect and prevent youth vaping. Here are some of the key reasons why:

Automatically detect smoke, vape, and THC

The E2 uses onboard sensors to detect levels of vape and THC in the air. Because it monitors for the chemical signature of these substances, it cannot be fooled by attempts to mask or cover up fumes.

The sensor continuously measures the amount of these substances in the air. If the amount exceeds a certain threshold (which can be customized), the system will send an automatic alert to administrators.

Receive real-time alerts for vape/smoke/THC

When vape or THC is detected, the E2 reacts in real-time. It records the incident, including the amount of substance detected, and sends an alert directly to administrators via email, text, or Mobile App.

Collect actionable evidence of tobacco use

By pairing the E2 sensor with a nearby smart camera, schools capture synchronized security footage of smoking/vaping incidents. Once vape is detected, you decide what to do with that information. Schools can directly intervene and support students who are found to be vaping, and create targeted programming and educational resources based on the evidence discovered with the E2.  

Respect student privacy

The E2 can be installed anywhere, including common vaping locations like restrooms and stairwells. Because the sensor doesn't record video or sound, privacy rights are not infringed.

Cost-effective vape detection

For public school districts, resources can be tight. Any solution that a school adopts should allow administrators to make the best use of available funds and resources. The E2 is the most cost-effective vape sensor available, making it perfect for district-wide deployment. Compared to similar solutions, a school can deploy nearly twice as many E2 sensors for the same cost.


The E2 Sensor is a powerful tool that school districts can use to reduce cigarettes and e-cigarette use and keep students safer and healthier. If you have questions or would like to demo or trial the E2, reach out to the Rhombus Team at sales@rhombusssytems.com.

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