Mission Message

Reversing the youth vaping trend

Teachers looking at vaping devices along with regular school supplies
Essentia Health Community Health Specialist Kasi Eisenzimmer (right) shows elementary school health and physical education teacher Josh Svor (left) and physical education teacher Logan Carlblom popular vaping devices alongside common school supplies. When asked if anything surprised them about the vaping devices, Svor responded, “How discreet some of the vapes can be! A lot of them look like normal supplies but are vapes.”

‘Don’t Blow It’ campaign warns students about the dangers of vaping

When Essentia Health Community Health Specialist Kasi Eisenzimmer talks with teachers, parents and community members about e-cigarette use and vaping among youth, she often brings a pencil box. Only it contains more than your everyday school supplies. It also holds popular vaping devices confiscated from students.

“I like to put them in the pencil box to show how discreet the devices are and how much they can look like our children’s school supplies,” says Eisenzimmer. This is just one education tactic she uses to illustrate this widespread community health issue. During a recent elementary health and physical education teacher meeting in West Fargo, Eisenzimmer also showed the “Don’t Blow It” video and toolkit.

“Don’t Blow It” is Essentia’s anti-vaping campaign, which includes a 10-minute video featuring high school students who dispel myths about vaping. “Many young people don’t understand the health risks associated with vaping, such as lung injury and harm to the developing brain, or that it’s not just water vapor,” says Jill Doberstein, Essentia’s tobacco treatment program manager. “We know from public health best practices that peer-to-peer education works best, so we hired a videographer and asked kids to share their stories.”

The campaign also features an online teacher toolkit with student quizzes, discussion guides and evaluations. Essentia has received a growing number of requests from schools for help with vaping education. It’s a call Essentia and our community partners are responding to in hopes of making a healthy difference in people’s lives today and for years to come.

Dont Blow It

Anti-vaping teaching guide

Essentia has developed a toolkit to educate students and the general public about the dangers of vaping.

View the toolkit.

Despite a decline in conventional cigarette use among high school students, e-cigarette use has grown considerably. In North Dakota, 21% of high school students have used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days, according to the 2017 North Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey. In northeastern Minnesota, more than 25% of ninth-graders have vaped in the last 30 days, which is above the state average of 16.3%, according to 2019 Minnesota Student Survey data.

Since its fall launch, Essentia’s Community Health team has promoted the “Don’t Blow It” video and toolkit to schools in eastern North Dakota, Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. The toolkit is generating a lot of positive feedback from schools, many of which are incorporating it into their middle and high school curriculum.

Josh Svor, a physical education and health teacher at Independence Elementary School in West Fargo, attended Eisenzimmer’s recent youth vaping presentation. He also plans to use the “Don’t Blow It” anti-vaping teacher toolkit materials in his health classes. “It gave me a better understanding of how harmful vaping can be for students,” he says. “I knew it was something that was becoming a problem in our schools, but I didn’t realize how bad it has gotten.”

Currently, the video has more than 4,000 views on YouTube, and students are responding to its content. When surveyed after watching the video, many students commented that they didn’t realize “how many bad chemicals are in the juice.” Another student said, “It’s sad to see other kids share that they can’t stop now and wish they never started.”

'Don't Blow It' video

At the heart of the “Don’t Blow It” campaign is a 10-minute video produced by high school students. Using peer-to-peer education, the video highlights the dangers of vaping and dispels common myths.

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