By Melisa Damcevska, Preventionist
On January 8, 2020, the Coalition for Healthy Communities held their first meeting of 2020.
The spotlight was on Nora and Yashi, both juniors at South Brunswick High School and the state youth advisory board members of Incorruptible Us, New Jersey's statewide youth anti-vaping campaign. The girls opened the meeting with a Kahoot! game, educating the adults in the room about vaping. They proceeded to present a PowerPoint they created, covering topics such as vaping facts and statistics, media and advertisements, and the work Incorruptible Middlesex has accomplished.
For instance, Incorruptible Middlesex was represented at National Night Out in August and Red Ribbon Week in October, and are planning events for Kick Butts Day in March. They strongly advocate that a youth voice is a powerful one, and peer-to-peer education is crucial, especially in regards to vaping. These girls proved that youth are capable and powerful leaders whose voices deserved to be heard.
The recently released 2019 Monitoring the Future study found that 1 in 10 eighth graders vaped nicotine in the past month. That number drastically increases to 1 in 4 students by the 12th grade. 11.7% of 12th graders also reported daily nicotine use, a statistic that was measured by the first time in 2019. The study also reported that various reasons that youth vape, including 60.9% who reported it was to experiment, 41.7% stated because it tasted good, and 37.9% said it was to have a good time with friends (MTF, 2019). Understanding the reasons behind the behavior is important when creating prevention programs and messaging to prevent vaping.
Youth like Nora and Yashi can help spread the message of vaping prevention through powerful peer-to-peer messaging and advocacy that target vaping at the source. Doing so not only will reduce and prevent the number of youth who vape, but will create strong community leaders in the process.
Source: Monitoring the Future 2019