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State announces initiative to educate parents about vaping

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health today launched its first statewide public information campaign to educate parents of middle and high school-aged children about the dangers of vape pens and e-cigarettes. The campaign, The New Look of Nicotine Addiction, seeks to spread the word that these high-tech products are harmful, that they contain nicotine which can damage a teenager’s developing brain and lead to addiction.

“E-cigarette use among young people is on the rise in the state,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “It is important that we educate parents about the risks associated with these products, and empower young people to make informed decisions about their health.”

Nearly half of Massachusetts high school students have tried e-cigarettes at least once and nearly one quarter of them reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days – a rate nine times higher than adults, according to the latest statewide data on the health and risk behaviors of Massachusetts youth. In an alarming comparison, more high school students reported using e-cigarettes than all other tobacco products combined:

“The health risks of using e-cigarettes and vaping pens for youth are clear,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “Nicotine is addictive and has a negative impact on teen brain development, including increased risk for depression, mood disorders, and future substance misuse. That’s why educating parents on these risks is so important.”

Vape pens and e-cigarettes are the latest examples of how the tobacco industry targets youth in their marketing efforts:

  • These products come in nearly 8,000 flavors, many of them sweetened to appeal to younger palates.
  • They’re cheaply priced to encourage impulse buys by young people.
  • They’re easy to get – available at gas stations, corner stores, pharmacies, mini-marts and other convenient locations in the community.

DPH’s new campaignwill be featured on transit, online and through social media channels starting this week.  The campaign also includes posters, flyers and other collateral materials for parents as well as a toolkit for schools and community-based organizations and billboards, which will be rolled out in August to coincide with the new school year.

More information on the campaign is available at www.getoutraged.org,