The “Talk Early, Talk Often” campaign is organized by the Sherburne County SUP Coalition to help educate and empower parents and caregivers to have ongoing conversations with the young people in their lives around drugs and alcohol. The coalition is currently working to create awareness of issues surrounding youth electronic cigarette use (also called vaping) and its adverse effects.

Although it has been around for over a decade, vaping’s popularity exploded in 2017, taking many parents, schools and communities by surprise. Vaping is the inhaling of an aerosol produced by an e-cigarette or other vape device. The most recently released 2017 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey shows that for the first time in 17 years, youth tobacco use is on this rise. The use of e-cigarettes has disrupted this downward trend in youth tobacco use. Since 2014, e-cigarette use has increased by 50 percent among Minnesota high school students, and e-cigarette use is now double conventional cigarette use.

Here are some tips from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids on how to safeguard against vaping:

— Be equipped with the facts. It’s important to be familiar with vape devices, what’s being vaped and the associated risks. Attend local presentations and training events to become educated.

— Have conversations. Look for opportunities to discuss vaping with your child.

— Try to understand why. Most kids start vaping due to curiosity, the flavors, wanting to fit in, relief from boredom and anxiety, etc. Some kids also become addicted to nicotine.

— Convey your expectations. Share why you don’t want your child vaping.

— Role play refusal skills. It may help to teach your child refusal skills to help prepare them for social situations where they are offered an opportunity to vape.

— Be a good role model. Set a positive example by being vape and tobacco-free. If you do vape, keep your equipment and supplies secured.

Additional resources are available through the SUP Coalition to help adults conversate with young people on the dangers of using e-cigarettes and other vape devices. Resources include a short video on “8 Things to Know About Vaping” and an associated discussion guide that help you understand what vaping is and how it impacts our youth. They encourage you to use and share these resources with others!

View these resources at www.sherburnesupcoalition.org/talk-early-talk-often.

The Sherburne County Substance Use Prevention Coalition is a community-focused organization on a mission to prevent substance use among our youth by promoting safe and healthy choices. — Alicia Maxwell, Sherburne County Substance Use Prevention Coalition Coordinator

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