State launches anti-vaping campaign

By Joseph Slacian

Indiana has launched a $2.1 million campaign to help educate you people about the dangers of vaping and to encourage them to stop.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box unveiled the campaign on Thursday, Aug. 29.

The efforts have been named “What’s Beyond the Haze” and involves social media, text and school-based measures to spread the word.

“Part of it is just the awareness that what we are peddling and what we are sharing and getting people addicted to is so harmful so this is a full court press and it starts today,” Holcomb said in announcing the campaign. “We know we have our work cut out for us as vaping continues to grow. This will be a real blitz, making sure we’re reaching out to every corner of the state.”

The campaign comes at a time when some 200 people nationwide have been hit by a vaping-related illness. In Indiana, 24 people between 16 and 29 years have taken ill, including four under 18.

On Friday, the Indiana State Department of Health officials announced they have confirmed the first death of an Indiana resident due to severe lung injury linked to a history of e-cigarette use.

The death, which occurred in an individual older than age 18, was confirmed Sept. 5 as part of an investigation involving health officials at the local and federal levels and in surrounding states. No additional details about the patient will be provided due to privacy laws.

The state’s new plan encourages teens to join Truth Initiative’s “This is quitting” text to quit program. State officials also plan to develop a toolkit of educational materials on vaping for students, parents and educators.

A 2018 State Health Department survey showed nearly 20 percent of all high school students currently vape, nearly 35,000 more than in 2016.

“Vaping has put nearly 35,000 young people in harm’s way,” Box said. “Our job is to keep our kids out of harm’s way.”

Dan Gray, Wabash County Tobacco Free coordinator, believes that the best way to protect youth is to invest in their health.

“We have learned that tobacco use can contribute to all kinds of cancer and other health deficiencies that can develop through years of tobacco use,” he said. “We are now learning that vaping may have a more immediate effect on the body with continued use.”

Alluding to the 24 Hoosiers who have taken sick due to vaping, Gray said it is crucial to do everything possible to not only education Wabash County residents on the dangers of vaping and its impact on the community, but have an aggressive prevention program in the schools.

“With the assistance from Parkview Wabash Hospital, the Wabash County Tobacco Free Coalition has collaborated with all three school districts to provide a youth tobacco prevention program,” he said. “The Coalition presents to every second and fifth grade information of the dangers of all forms of tobacco, including the e-cigarette and JUUL, and the addictive power nicotine has on the young developing brain. The purpose is to make them aware and discourage them from every starting. Their brain is more accessible to the effects of the nicotine than an adult and become addicted quicker.”

The Coalition also has been invited to present to middle and high school health classes in all three school districts.

“Because of the critical effects vaping has on the body, it is crucial we keep our children and young people aware,” he said.

“It is important they exercise their right to say ‘no’ when they are influenced by peer pressure.”

Gray said he appreciates what the State Health Department and the governor are doing to take action against the e-cigarette and JUUL by offering resources help educators, students and parents be more aware.

“The Coalition will do everything it can to make sure these resources are used,” he said. 

Posted on 2019 Sep 10