‘Don’t Blow It’ Campaign

Essentia Health released an anti-vaping campaign

Vaping companies are targeting a younger generation.

Essentia Health released an anti-vaping campaign to deter younger populations from vaping

In recent years, there has been an increasing trend in e-cigarettes and vapes. Although they’re marketed as “healthier” substitutes to the traditional cigarette, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 530 reported hospitalizations in 2019 that have been caused by e-cigarette/vape related diseases. Due to this trending health concern, Essentia Health has released a new anti-vaping campaign. The campaign is geared towards middle and high school students in an attempt to prevent more of the Fargo-Moorhead, West Fargo youth from getting addicted to e-cigarettes and vapes.

Community Health Prevention Specialist, Kasi Eisenzimmer, for Essentia Health’s Fargo center talked about the uprising issue of vaping and e-cigarettes, as well as the ‘Don’t Blow It’ campaign. When asked about some of her roles and responsibilities as the Community Health Prevention Specialist, Eisenzimmer said: “I work to impact the overall health of our community based on what our community members identify as priorities. This includes youth vaping, underage drinking, adult binge drinking, food insecurity, human trafficking, homelessness and multiple other areas.” Eisenzimmer has been in this position for Essentia Health for six months.

When asked what the hopes and goals of the ‘Don’t Blow It’ campaign are, Eisenzimmer responded, “To ultimately see a decrease in the number of youth that are vaping. We are also hoping to get this campaign out to as many people as possible and reach a large audience.”

It was stated by the Media Relations Specialist for Essentia Health, Tara Ekren, that while the ‘Don’t Blow It’ campaign can be applicable for people of all ages, it’s mostly aimed towards middle and high school students. Eisenzimmer further expanded on this statement. “Vaping is an issue at all ages. The ‘Don’t Blow It’ campaign is primarily focused on middle and high school students because we know from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that 90 percent of smokers begin using before the age of 18. That is why we are really trying to focus the education on our middle and high school-aged children so they know the dangers associated with vaping and hopefully that will prevent them from even wanting to try it. We have a whole new generation of youth that are addicted to nicotine and that should be alarming for all community members.”

Eisenzimmer stressed that the ‘Don’t Blow It’ campaign isn’t only for middle and high school students, but that is Essentia Health’s main target. “This campaign can be used by anyone who sees a need for it. Essentia Health has a tobacco cessation program to help people stop using nicotine.”

Eisenzimmer was also inquired about the impact that this campaign could have for students at North Dakota State University. “While this campaign isn’t directly targeted toward college students, we know they still play a huge role in our community and are role models for our youth. I would encourage all college students to watch the ‘Don’t Blow It’ campaign video (posted on the Essentia Health website) and educate themselves on how dangerous and serious this matter is.” Eisenzimmer continued to emphasize the role college students have in decreasing the “epidemic” of e-cigarettes and vapes. “ I would also encourage students that have chosen to start vaping to be mindful of who is around you when you do. Kids are looking up to the college students whether they realize it or not and second-hand smoke is dangerous as well.”

Regarding the dangers of the shifting market of vapes from being “healthier” mediums of cigarettes to now targeting a younger population, Eisenzimmer had some concerns. “It is unfortunate that they do choose vulnerable populations to target. We know the youth don’t want the menthol-flavored vapes, they want the candy or fruity flavors. The tobacco companies know once they get these youth addicted, they have lifetime customers. A flavor ban would be a huge step in the right direction and would hopefully decrease the number of individuals we see vaping.”

Eisenzimmer then went into depth about how the vaping and e-cigarette “epidemic” is impacting the Fargo-Moorhead, West Fargo area. “It is a huge problem for this area. We know that at least 1 in 4 of our students are vaping and they are starting as young as middle school.” She mentioned that it is such an issue because these devices are hard to recognize at times. “They can look like highlighters, pens, USBs and even watches. Unless you know what you are looking for, you wouldn’t recognize it.” Eisenzimmer shared her concerns as not only the Community Health Prevention Specialist but also a member of this community. “I want to see the community be as healthy as it can be and there isn’t enough research around vaping for us to see what the long-term effects will be. We are seeing individuals end up in the hospital after a year or two of vaping, so what will ten or twenty years of vaping look like. We just don’t know enough.”

The dangers of vaping that everyone should be aware of were also discussed. “There just isn’t enough research on vaping. We don’t know exactly what is in it or what the exact side effects will be. It is never a good idea to inhale anything into your lungs,” Eisenzimmer said. She also touched on the subject that vaping socially and not out of habit can still be dangerous. “Sharing vapes at parties or social events is also dangerous for many reasons. The most common being the spread of disease that the other person may carry and then transfer to you. Another reason is that you don’t know what is in their device or what they are using.”

As for the subject of the dangers of buying/using homemade or bootleg juice for vapes and e-cigarettes, Eisenzimmer claimed: “I highly recommend staying away from vaping all together but especially from buying homemade/bootleg juice for vapes. There are no regulations when you buy counterfeit so you may receive something completely different (from what you expect) or you may receive something that is contaminated.”

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