THE use of e-cigarettes, known as vaping, is becoming a huge problem for the education sector with schools having to implement new measures to tackle the issue. The Department of Education's executive director of school performance, Cathy Brennan, told the Northern Daily Leader the problem has worsened. "We are aware that this has become far more prevalent, in a way it's replaced where cigarette smoking used to be a number of years ago," she said. "Our students generally look at cigarettes and think 'I wouldn't touch that, they're no good for you', but because of the marketing associated with vapes, which is certainly targeted at young people, it's something we're needing to deal with." The department's own research, undertaken with NSW Health, shows 64 per cent of teachers are reporting being aware of activity around vapes in schools. One in five students say they have vaped and nearly 80 per cent say it's easy to get a vape at a shop or online. Ms Brennan said in response, the department has looked at the limiting the use of toilets during class time at certain schools to prevent students leaving the classroom to vape. "But again, that is only during class time where that restriction is imposed on students," she said. "No student is ever prevented from going to the toilet. It's really just a matter of how it's managed to minimise the use during learning time." IN OTHER NEWS: Making it harder for teachers is the appearance of vapes, Ms Brennan said, which can often be mistaken as a USB, a highlighter or a pen. "Often it's not even recognised by a parent or a teacher that the student even has it. The packaging is not helping us at all," she said. Vaping is prohibited on all school premises, and the sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine is illegal in NSW. The Department of Education says it believes it's largely an education issue, and a lack of awareness about the associated health risks. It has unveiled a campaign called the Vaping Toolkit, in association with NSW Health, designed to increase young people's awareness of the dangers of vaping and support parents, carers and families. NSW Health is also cracking down on illegal e-cigarettes, seizing more than $1 million worth since January 2022.