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Local students part of campaign to curb teen vaping

Humorous ads on YouTube part of campaign
Posted at 9:07 AM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-22 12:04:55-04

High school can be tough, but vaping nicotine isn’t the solution for dealing with that stress.

That’s the message of a new series of public health advertisements that features local teenagers.

"We really wanted to make sure it was a message that kids would take and own themselves and listen to their peers," said Taylor Roberts, a disease prevention coordinator with Tri-County Public Health.

The advertisements were created in partnership with Tri-County Public Health and the Douglas County Youth Leader Board.

The PSAs feature teens talking about the stresses of modern high school, including social media and relationships.

"I sent an embarrassing SnapChat to the guy I like," one girl says in a video.

Abby Hoerler, a 17-year-old student at Thunder Ridge High School, was featured in the campaign. She said the group wanted the videos to have humor, but a serious underlying message.

"High school is hard and we all deal with a lot of things, but there are other ways to cope with stress," she says in the video.

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and teenagers who start vaping because they believe it's safer than cigarette smoking can quickly become dependent on the nicotine to deal with stress.

Health officials said there may be additional long-term health effects that aren't fully known.

"We don’t have the long-term health science on vaping as we do with smoking (cigarettes)," Roberts said. "We do know this is not harmless water vapor. We’re starting to see links between vape use and pneumonia, chronic respiratory infection (and) COPD.”

The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment plans to introduce a proposal later this year to raise the tobacco and nicotine purchasing age to 21. A bill has also been introduced in the U.S. Senate to raise the federal age to 21. Advocates say that's an important step toward cutting off access to vaping products.