The Berrien County Health Department launches underage vaping campaign

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. --The Berrien County Health Department has a new campaign warning of the dangers of underage vaping.

“We just have mountains of evidence that show us what the effects of nicotine are on the human body period, let alone a youth with a growing brain. So, that's what we hope would get through to the youth,” Public Health Promotion and Prevention Supervisor Lisa Peeples-Hurst said.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Michigan.

The study also found that 33% of Michigan high school students have tried E-cigarettes in their lifetime and 14% of Michigan high school students currently use vapes.

Some side effects of underage vaping include greater levels of anxiety and depression, increased risk of lung disease and cancer, high blood pressure and heart attacks.

“It's important that our department get the information out so that people are aware of the health effects of nicotine and vape products specifically, and what that does to a growing brain, and how that can even lead to some mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. And so, a lot of people aren't necessarily aware of that information. And that's one of the reasons why we do these campaigns every quarter,” Peeples-Hurst said.

Peeples-Hurst says that while the campaign runs from now through march, the department offers vaping presentations for schools year-round.

She says it’s just one way to spread awareness among youth.

“But then when you actually hear the reality of things that have happened, and especially things that have happened to peers, and folks your age, and how serious this the health effects are, we just hope that we're changing minds, you know, that that's enough to set our thought process that, hey, you know, maybe this isn't as cool as it seems. And it's certainly not healthy. And I think that's kind of our prevention and public health message,” Peeples-Hurst said.

The Health Department built a website called Escape the Vape, filled with resources that kids and parents can click on. A few of the resources are from the CDC, the Administration of Mental Health Services, and substance abuse.

“If parents do the due diligence of you know, talking with their children, and noticing something that may not seem right in a bedroom or in a backpack, then we can partner with them to make sure that we're getting the message across to their kids. That's why we're here,” Peeples-Hurst said.

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