York County a target area for new anti-vape campaign
Friday marked World No Tobacco Day, and with it came the launch of a new anti-vaping campaign.
“The Vape Talk” is an effort by the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania to tackle the youth e-cigarette epidemic and will feature billboard, digital and social media advertising in target areas across the state, according to a news release.
One of those is York — along with Harrisburg, Chambersburg, Scranton, Lehigh, Williamsport and State College.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health — which conducts the Youth Tobacco Survey — funded the campaign through a grant, and target areas were identified based on high prevalence of use, heightened exposure to advertising and availability of cessation services.
"The American Lung Association is very concerned that we’re at risk of losing another generation to tobacco-caused diseases," said Jennifer Folkenroth, national senior director for tobacco control at the American Lung Association.
Though teen use of traditional cigarettes is declining, many are taking up vaping — the largest spike among high school students, with a 78% increase in usage from 2017 to 2018, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Middle school usage also increased 48% in the same period, the CDC reports.
More than 5,700 youths started vaping each day in 2018, and more than 3 million high school students vape compared with 220,000 in 2011, according to the ALA.
The campaign will target ages 12-19, focusing on parent intervention and advertising — two ways in which teens are most easily reached.
Sixty-six percent of teens believe e-cigarettes are just flavoring and water vapor, but studies have shown that even small amounts of the two primary ingredients — diacetyl and acrolein — can cause irreversible lung damage, Folkenroth said.
Nicotine also changes the chemistry of a young brain — which is not fully developed until 25 — making it easier to become addicted and more difficult to quit, she added.
Juul, the most popular brand with teens, contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes in one pod and is funded by the owner of Marlboro.
Youths who vape also are more likely to turn to smoking, and more than three times more likely to become frequent smokers, according to a study in the Pediatrics journal.
In York County, the number of convenience stores and gas stations that carry these products is among the highest, so teens are being exposed more frequently, she added.
Though the Food and Drug Administration declared youth vaping an "epidemic of addiction" and cracked down on youth access, it has delayed disclosure of ingredients, and premarket review of manufacturers' newly deemed tobacco products until 2021, according to the ALA.
"The Vape Talk" will serve the whole county, but advertising will be centralized in York City. A downloadable parent discussion guide is available on thevapetalk.org.
"Research shows family intervention has the most significant impact," Folkenroth said.
For help quitting, call the PA FREE Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, visit PA.QuitLogix.org or download a cessation app designed for youth, such as QuitSTART.