Anti-vaping campaign highlights Idaho’s crisis

Idaho Public Television is launching an anti-vaping awareness campaign this spring to address a crisis affecting Idaho teenagers, a group highly susceptible to new fads and trendy products.

Two out of five Idaho teenagers have tried vaping at least once, according to the anti-vaping campaign funded by the Idaho Millennium Fund, created by the Legislature in 2000 to fund tobacco prevention efforts.

The statewide campaign called “KNOW VAPE” has two focal points.

The first is an hour-long documentary called “Nic Sick” that airs March 21 at 7 p.m. on IPTV. Organizers released a film trailer this week highlighting the testimonials of teens who discuss how vaping negatively impacted their young lives.

A new documentary that highlights the damaging effects of underage vaping in Idaho will be released in March. The film is called “Nic Sick.”

The second is a contest for teens with over $10,000 in prizes. Contestants will produce original 90-second anti-vape videos. The deadline for submissions is
April 1st .

Opponents of underage vaping face a billion dollar industry backed with engineers, scientists and deep corporate pockets whose marketing is designed to influence young adults and teenagers.

Companies like Juul used Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram to market sleek, colorful vaping products, and hired social media influencers to create a buzz, according to the Truth Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to tobacco prevention.

Vaping devices are designed to be easily disguised and come with flavored liquids that are hard for parents and schools to detect.

It’s unbelievable the billions of dollars that the big tobacco companies have spent in creating this crisis,” said Jennie Sue Weltner, an executive producer of the documentary. 

Try and guess which of these products are vaping devices? The answer is all of them.

The single biggest misconception is that vaping is a safe alternative to cigarettes, Weltner said. “And that is absolutely not true.”

One Juul pod is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes. Juul Labs was a leader in the creation of vaping devices that produce an aerosol the visible white smoke by heating liquid that contains nicotine. These disposable pods, which are about half the size of a USB flash drive, contain that liquid nicotine. 

“And so the impact of that amount of nicotine is tremendous,” said Weltner.I got pretty angry about it. And, I am deeply empathetic for the kids who are struggling with it, because when you hear their stories, it’s pretty heartbreaking.”

Supported by real experiences of Idaho teens and healthcare professionals, Weltner’s documentary reveals the truth about underage vaping — lung damage, inhibited brain development, and nicotine addiction.

From the beginning, I felt this was a story that needed to be told by the kids. I thought it would be so much more effective than a bunch of grownups telling youth what not to do,” Weltner said.

The honest stories of teenagers trying to overcome vaping addiction and the problems that vaping has caused, she said, are heartbreaking.

“Every teen we talked to was from Idaho. Big cities, rural cities — the problem is everywhere.”

The anti-vaping campaign will include a website with resources for parents and educators that will go live in March. Weltner is also partnering with health departments and school districts to bring presentations into the schools.

To learn more about the health consequences of vaping, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website here

In addition to the multi-million dollar settlements Juul Labs has agreed to pay for marketing its products to underage users, the company still faces thousands of additional lawsuits. And Idaho is set to receive a settlement of $8.3 million, the Idaho Press reported this month.

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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