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In the first weeks of the 2018 school year, Healthy Lamoille Valley (HLV) collaborated with Peoples Academy Middle Level (PAML) administration to educate its entire community of students, teachers and staff on the topic of the negative impacts of e-cigarettes, vaping and JUULing.

There has been a recent media frenzy related to the FDA crackdown on the tobacco industry’s target of e-cigarettes towards youth.  The major issue being that these nicotine products are made in flavors that are attractive to youth and have a sleek design, like JUUL, that looks like a USB drive for a computer. The reality is that based on the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data, in Lamoille County more than ⅓ of high school students have “ever used an electronic vapor product” and this is data from more than a year ago before it was labeled a health epidemic among teenagers by the FDA.

With fear that there might be traction of these products locally and that students would come back to school addicted, over the summer, HLV staff met with PAML, Principal Karen Weeks, School Counselor Jessica Dambach and Student Assistance Professional, Peter Hathaway.  Together they designed an education campaign to build on the parent nights offered last year since parents, too, didn’t know much about the topic.

In anticipation of the start of the current school year, HLV provided educational brochures that went out to all parents in welcome back to school letters. Once school started, HLV presented to students in two groups, 5th/6th graders and 7th/8th graders, and also provided a follow-up lesson for teachers to deliver the day following the presentations with additional resources for further follow-up. “We know how enticing these products may seem so we wanted to get ahead of it at the beginning of the year,” said Weeks.

Overall, this educational campaign was well received by the administrator, teachers, students, and parents. At the recent PA open house, Alison Link, HLV Policy and Community Outreach Coordinator, interacted with many students who remembered her from the presentations and offered comments and asked questions, along-side their parents who were glad to see the proactive nature of the effort.  Many students mentioned they were surprised by the presentations and that the e-cigarettes were made in fruity and fun flavors and said “who wouldn’t want to try it” if they didn’t know the negative impact.  Others were under the impression that it was not harmful to their health and was just a flavored mist.  Weeks said, “one parent of a 7th and 6th grader shared with me in late September that she thought it was a great way to start the new year.  Both her children learned a lot from the presentation and felt it was important information for their ages.”

Read more about Electronic Cigarettes and preventing underage e-cigarette use on our resource page.

Anyone interested in getting involved with the HLV Tobacco Prevention Task Force should contact
Alison Link at alison@healthylamoillevalley.org or 917-626-0344 for more information.

 

Picture Credit: Pictured: Alison Link and students at PAML. Provided and approved by PAML for media purposes.