How do you get young people to stop vaping?

Ask them how.

That’s the approach the HERO Coalition is taking to address what has become an epidemic among U.S. high schoolers, according to the Food & Drug Administration.

As reported in the Oct. 25, 2018 Waconia Patriot, e-cigarettes are a rapidly growing market and vaping is becoming a growing concern locally – especially in the past two years and especially among young people.

While most students still aren’t using tobacco-related products, notes Maureen Farrell, youth development specialist and HERO Coalition lead, she points out that School District 110 use exceeds state levels. And there’s growing alarm about the surging popularity and potential health effects of e-cigarettes, particularly because it follows a several-year drop in teen smoking.

As part of its mission is to prevent use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs among youth, the local coalition of parents, educators and community leaders is launching a campaign to provide information and create awareness of vaping concerns among students and parents. The campaign launch is slated for Jan. 22-25, 2019, during “National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week.”

The HERO Coalition is enlisting ideas and help from students to plan and stage the campaign. It is also is working with the high school to conduct a short survey of students to better gauge the number of young people who vape and their awareness/understanding of potential health effects.

“The large majority of students aren’t vaping and I think they are concerned about their peers who do, so we appreciate their involvement. They know what works and what won’t,” said Ben Karnes, Waconia schools’ security monitor and HERO coalition member.

Expect a lot of fun and humor in the upcoming campaign, including attention-getting facts and posters. Also, maybe vaping trivia or other games at lunch with gift cards going to the winners.

Parents can expect to see the same kind of information at upcoming parent-teacher conferences this term.

Education is a key component in combatting the growth in teen vaping, said Jeremy Vann, of Carver County Public Health, but he notes there are other critical factors as well. For example, regulations around manufacturing of vape products, reviews of sales and marketing practices, and age laws and enforcement on sales.

As an example, Eden Prairie is the latest jurisdiction to raise the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. That makes 19 Minnesota cities and counties that have joined the Tobacco 21 ordinance group.

“The e-cigarette epidemic among youth is all of our problem…,” Lakeview Clinic physician Dr. Jonathan Larson wrote in an opinion piece in the Dec. 6, 2018 Waconia Patriot. “It is up to all of us to take whatever steps are necessary to stop this epidemic in its tracks before it gets event worse.”

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