On Friday, November 12, members of the FACT group at Northwestern Middle School challenged their peers to pledge not to use tobacco or e-cigarettes. Even the staff members participated in the #ditchthevape event. Chad Gradine, a para-educator, was among 46 people to sign a pledge during the sixth-grade lunch period. He said he did it “to stay healthy”.
A pledge form sits on a table in the cafeteria at Northwestern Middle School on Friday, November 12, 2021. Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
“What we’re seeing reflected in the data is that students don’t start smoking and then vaping. They start vaping and then they start smoking, ”said Charmaine Swan, coordinator of the Northwest Lung Heath Alliance, which covers six counties in northwestern Wisconsin.
The third test won the hearts of NMS students, according to FACT group co-advisor Erika Kaufman. They received a state grant to put up a #ditchthevape billboard along US Highway 2 and print t-shirts in spring 2020, but COVID-19 closed the school in person before they could get pledges.
“We tried again last fall after our health classes did their drug and alcohol unit, but again we went online. So we’re finally finishing the project, ”Kaufman said.
An initiative of the Superior which was launched last year is also the object of national notoriety. On November 8, the second year of Upper Secondary School Alayna Degraef was recognized by the Higher School Council for her work on a short film encouraging students not to vape. The film “As Asthma” is a finalist for the My Hero WOJ Youth Reporter Award in the High School Creative category. It tells the story of a teenage girl caught up in nicotine addiction and how it affected her.
“When it comes to young people, we really rely on young people to tell their personal stories,” because young people are more likely to accept the anti-vaping message from their peers, Swan said.
At a time when depression and anxiety among young people has increased due to the pandemic, the anti-vaping message is particularly important.
“They are finding that mental health is very much about vaping,” Kaufman said.
A 2019 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that current e-cigarette users are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression as people who have never vaped.
As of 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most common tobacco product used by young people nationwide. In December 2018, then-surgeon general Jerome Adams declared the use of e-cigarettes by young people to be an epidemic.
More than 2 million young people currently use e-cigarettes, according to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Of these, 1 in 4 uses e-cigarettes daily and 85% of them use e-cigarettes flavored. Disposable products were the most commonly used electronic cigarette device.
Upper middle school eighth grade student Veronica Acurero, left, and upper secondary school sophomore Alayna Degraef, right, receive Spartan Showcase awards from the upper school district administrator , Amy Starzecki, at the school board meeting on Monday, November 8, 2021. Contribution / Pat McKone
According to the 2020 Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institutes of Health, 16.6% of eighth graders, 30.7% of 10th graders and 34.5% of high school students reported vaping nicotine in the past 12 months.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, four in five children who have used tobacco have first tried a flavored product.
The federal minimum age to purchase tobacco products is 21 years old. Congress passed the Tobacco Act 21 in December 2019. Federal law does not prevent state, local, tribal, or territorial governments from passing more restrictive law. Wisconsin, however, warns or prevents local communities from passing more stringent laws or different from state tobacco control policies related to licensing and youth access.
Northwestern Middle School seventh grade Jeffrey Carswell, left to right, Simon Schmidt and Sophie Navarro collect the 46 pledge sheets that were signed at the grade six lunch on Friday, November 12, 2021. Each sheet was a pledge to stay free from tobacco and electronic cigarettes. . Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
This is Quitting, trueinitiative.org/thisisquitting, is a program to help young people quit vaping. Teens and young adults can register for free by sending DITCHVAPE to 88709.
The Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line is a free service to help people quit smoking, vaping, or other tobacco uses. Free for residents of Wisconsin aged 13 and over. Call 800-QUIT-NOW, text READY at 200-400 or visit quitline.wisc.edu.
Truth Initiative, a non-profit public health organization, offers information on vaping among young people.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has a page on tobacco.