Superior, Northwestern students challenge peers to ‘ditch…


Whereas COVID-19 dominates well being information, native college students proceed battling a pre-pandemic epidemic, vaping, with peer-to-peer encouragement and private tales.

Members of the Northwestern Center Faculty FACT group challenged their friends to take the pledge to not use tobacco or e-cigarette merchandise Friday, Nov. 12. Even employees members took half within the #ditchthevape occasion. Chad Gradine, a paraeducator, was among the many 46 folks to signal a pledge throughout the sixth grade lunch interval. He mentioned he did it “to stay healthy.”

A pledge type sits on a desk within the Northwestern Center Faculty cafeteria Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

“What we see reflected in the data is that students don’t start smoking and then go to vaping anymore. They start vaping and then they go to smoking,” mentioned Charmaine Swan, coordinator of the Northwest Lung Heath Alliance, which covers six Northwestern Wisconsin counties.

The third attempt was the attraction for the NMS college students, based on Counselor Erika Kaufman, co-adviser of the FACT group. They acquired a state grant to to place up a #ditchthevape billboard alongside U.S. Freeway 2 and print T-shirts in spring 2020, however COVID-19 shut down in-person faculty earlier than they might get pledges.

“We tried again last fall after our health classes did their drug and alcohol unit, but again we went online. So here we are finally finishing off the project,” Kaufman mentioned.

A Superior initiative that was launched final yr can be gaining nationwide discover. On Nov. 8 Superior Excessive Faculty sophomore Alayna Degraef was acknowledged by the Superior Faculty Board for her work on a brief movie encouraging college students to not vape. The movie, “As an Asthmatic,” is a finalist for the My Hero WOJ Youth Reporter award within the Excessive Faculty Artistic class. It shares the story of a teen drawn into nicotine dependancy and the way it affected her.

“When it comes to youth, we really are relying on the youth telling their personal story” because young people are more likely to accept the anti-vaping message from peers, Swan said.

At a time when depression and anxiety among young people has increased due to the pandemic, the anti-vaping message is especially important.

“They’re finding that mental health is very much related to vaping,” Kaufman mentioned.

A 2019 examine within the Journal of the American Medical Affiliation discovered that present e-cigarette customers have double the chances of getting a prognosis of despair than individuals who have by no means vaped.

Vaping stats

Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been essentially the most generally used tobacco product amongst younger folks nationwide. In December 2018, then Surgeon Normal Jerome Adams declared the usage of e-cigarettes by younger folks an epidemic.

Greater than 2 million younger folks at the moment use e-cigarettes, based on the 2021 Nationwide Youth Tobacco Survey. Of them, 1 in 4 use e-cigarettes each day, and 85% of them use flavored e-cigarettes. Disposables had been essentially the most generally used e-cigarette machine.

Superior Center Faculty eighth grader Veronica Acurero, left, and Superior Excessive Faculty sophomore Alayna Degraef, proper, obtain Spartan Showcase awards from Superior Faculty District Administrator Amy Starzecki throughout the Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, faculty board assembly. Contributed / Pat McKone

In keeping with the 2020 Monitoring the Future survey, funded by Nationwide Institutes of Well being, 16.6% of eighth graders, 30.7% of tenth graders and 34.5% of highschool seniors reported vaping nicotine previously 12 months.

4 out of 5 youngsters who’ve used tobacco tried a flavored product first, based on the Wisconsin Division of Well being Providers.

Legal guidelines

The federal minimal age for buying tobacco merchandise is 21. Congress handed the Tobacco 21 laws in December 2019. The federal legislation doesn’t preclude state, native, tribal or territorial governments from passing a legislation that’s extra restrictive. Wisconsin, nevertheless, does preempt, or forestall, native communities from passing legal guidelines which can be extra stringent or differ from the state’s tobacco management insurance policies associated to licensure and youth entry.

Northwestern Center Faculty seventh graders Jeffrey Carswell, from left, Simon Schmidt and Sophie Navarro collect the 46 pledge sheets that had been signed throughout sixth-grade lunch Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Every sheet was a pledge to stay tobacco and e-cigarette free. Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram


  • That is Quitting,, is a program to assist younger folks stop vaping. Teenagers and younger adults can be a part of at no cost by texting DITCHVAPE to 88709.

  • The Wisconsin Tobacco Give up Line is a free service to assist folks stop smoking, vaping or different tobacco use. Free to Wisconsin residents age 13 and older. Name 800-QUIT-NOW, textual content READY to 200-400 or go to

  • Reality Initiative, a nonprofit public well being group, presents info on youth vaping.

  • Wisconsin Division of Well being Providers supplies a web page on Tobacco.

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