SIMCOE MUSKOKA DISTRICT HEALTH UNIT
Determined not to be an experiment for the tobacco and vaping industry, local youth are spreading the word that vaping is not just harmless water vapour!
“Nobody knows the long-term – or even some of the short-term – health effects of vaping,” says 15-year-old Lachlan Craig. “What we do know is that vaping is definitely not harmless. Anyone who vapes becomes part of the industry’s health experiment.”
Craig along with a number of youth across the region worked with public health staff to help create an educational website NotAnExperiment.ca and they want their peers to know about it.
NotAnExperiment.ca includes materials that give teens, parents and teachers the facts about the health effects of vaping; the industry’s marketing of these addictive products; and the chemical mixtures that can make up e-liquids. The information is designed to help young people make vape and smoke-free choices.
The website also features an interactive ‘escape room’ game that educators, youth and community groups can download and play to learn these facts about vaping. It comes with a guide to spark discussion among youth in Grades 7 to 12 and encourage them to share what they learn with their peers.
“Youth are vaping at an alarming rate,” said Cindy Baker-Barill, manager of the health unit team that worked with the teens on the web resource. “Data shows a 74 per cent jump in vaping among 16-19 year olds in Canada between 2017 and 2018 reaching 14.6 per cent from 8.4 per cent in one year. It’s clear we are way behind in the fight to prevent youth uptake.”
Baker-Barill said the industry’s relatively unrestricted ability to market and promote e-cigarettes has meant a whole new group of non-smoking youth are at risk of becoming addicted to nicotine products.
“There is a growing body of research that shows many teens who vape will go on to smoke traditional cigarettes to feed their nicotine addiction.”
NotAnExperiment.ca is being promoted through Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms and includes clever 30-second videos featuring some of the youth involved in the project. These videos can be viewed on the website.
For more information, visit NotAnExperiment.ca or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877721-7520, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.