(WYTV) – The American Heart Association (AHA) recently launched an anti-vaping campaign called “Quit Lying.” It directly targets tobacco companies that are marketing vaping products and flavors to kids and teens despite the newly found harmful effects.
The public service announcement aims to raise awareness. The AHA says the goal is to get the big tobacco companies to tell the truth about the effects of vaping on teens.
“So, using the hashtag #QuitLying and telling big vape to stop telling kids and marketing to kids, stop telling them these products are safe when they’re certainly not,” said AHA Communications Director Jessica Doudrick.
Doudrick explains that this campaign is part of a three-tier approach by the AHA to call out tobacco companies. The two other tiers invest $20 million into research and call on government officials to change public policy to prevent youth vaping and ban flavored e-cigarettes.
- Launches of a nationwide youth, school and community engagement and awareness campaign, dubbed #QuitLying
- Invests $20 million in research focused on the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use on young people
- Efforts to change public policy at all levels of government to prevent youth vaping and nicotine addiction
“They’re in mint flavors, they’re bubblegum, cotton candy and kids are attracted to that,” Doudrick said.
On Wednesday, top executives from the largest vaping companies were on Capitol Hill. The new CEO of vaping giant Juul, K.C. Crosthwaite, admitted to lawmakers that flavored products targeted teens but promised that the industry is now taking proactive steps to ensure otherwise.
“We are committed to taking concrete action to re-earn that trust … Anyone who doesn’t use nicotine shouldn’t start. Anyone who smokes should quit,” Crosthwaite said.
Democrats and some Republicans are debating more bills to regulate the vaping industry. One would force manufacturers to better label vaping products and accessories. Another before the U.S. Senate would require manufacturers to pay a tax to help fund additional oversight by the Food and Drug Administration.
According to the AHA, e-cigarettes are the most common tobacco product used by adolescents. The latest surveillance data shows that 27.5% of high school students are using e-cigarettes, up from 20.8% in 2018 and 11.7% in 2017.
Comparatively, the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that the number of teens who vape has more than doubled in just the past two years to five million people — more than 1 in 4 high school students reported vaping.
It’s a trend that students and teachers at Austintown Fitch say they’re seeing in and out of the classroom.
“I feel like it’s a gateway drug and it can just lead to other things,” said Austintown Fitch junior Christian Swarm.
“I have actually personally caught students vaping. A couple of them, of course, got in trouble. The vape devices look like anything you’re going to see on a daily basis,” said Austintown Fitch biology teacher Stacey Sahli.
Several everyday items like an Apple Watch, key fob and USB drive have a vaping dupe.
“Unless you’re trained in it, you really don’t know what you’re looking at specifically. They’ve fallen out of pockets on the floor and you know you’re stuck in that position. Well, you have to write them up because you saw the device and you saw it on that student,” Sahli said.
Sahli said she uses those moments to teach students about the dangers, when she knows she has their attention.
“They’re hearing it, but whether they choose to take that advice or not is up to them. We can’t do that for them,” Sahli said.
According to the AHA, adults and kids are smoking traditional cigarettes less but using e-cigarettes and other tobacco products more. But, vaping may help re-normalize tobacco use and get kids started, even leading them to traditional cigarettes over time.
Still, flavored vape cartridges will no longer be sold in stores. Thursday, Feb. 6 was the first official day of the federal ban on the products.