Student-Led Initiative Targets Vaping Use | Opinion…


E-cigarettes, which are similar in size to cigarettes and contain nicotine-based liquid that is vaporized and inhaled, have risen in popularity nationally over the last decade.

In 2021, more than 2.5 million – two out of eight – U.S. high school students said they used commercial tobacco products. E-cigarettes were by far the most popular; 2 million middle and high school students (7.6%) reported current use, according to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

Within Rice County, statistics are similar: 14% of Rice County ninth graders said they’d used a vape/e-cigarette in the past 30 days, compared to 2.5% who said they’d smoked a cigarette. Among 11th graders, 22% had used a vape or e-cigarette in the past 30 days and 8% had used a vape or e-cigarette daily in the past 30 days, according to the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey.

As the rate that students use e-cigarettes, increases, Healthy Community Initiative is excited to announce our new RAVE Student Initiative. RAVE stands for Reduction and Awareness of Vaping and E-Cigarette use.

It exists to communicate and bring awareness to the issue of vaping, in association with cannabis use and nicotine addiction, among middle and high schoolers, through the intentional engagement of, and power sharing with, youth in Faribault and Northfield.

While drug and substance use and abuse prevention can and should take many different forms, RAVE seeks to amplify and center the voices of students, who add important discussion and insight to the prevention universe.

RAVE is a student-run initiative. Our 17 students from both Faribault and Northfield middle and high schools make up our leadership team. This upcoming year we will focus on learning about, and being a part of, protective factors that sway students away from vaping and nicotine addiction.

Many protective factors already exist in Rice County. RAVE aims to join those initiatives and spaces by focusing on educating our leadership team and the greater youth (and adult) community on finding, building and maintaining healthy relationships, knowing the difference between positive and negative peer influence, understanding and labeling emotions, knowing the effects that nicotine and commercial tobacco use have on someone’s physical and mental health, and building positive coping skills.

Over the next few years, we will work to share this information with the county in the form of messaging, presentations, training, and swag (who doesn’t love a great coffee mug?).

If you would like to know more about our group and what we do, please visit the Rice County Chemical and Mental Health Coalition website,

Carolyn Ward is Healthy Community Initiative’s project manager and RAVE grant coordinator.

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