DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Some Colorado teenagers and parents are taking to the airwaves to fight the youth vaping epidemic. In a series of public service announcements, they are highlighting the risk of nicotine addiction.
It is part of the Tobacco Free 303 campaign to educate the community about the dangers of vaping. The hope is that teens hearing from peers will make a bigger impact and adults explaining the problem will be a wake-up call to parents.
Teen vaping is skyrocketing. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows Colorado is number one among 37 surveyed states.
“In Douglas County school district, one in two high school seniors are using vape products,” said Taylor Roberts, Tobacco Free 303 spokesman and Chronic Disease Prevention Coordinator at Tri-County Health Department.
“I see a ton of kids using them in class, bathrooms, just in school in general,” said Chris Hoerler, a freshman at Thunder Ridge High School in Douglas County.
His sister, Abby, is a junior.
“A lot of teenagers don’t realize how addicting it is to them,” Abby told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
The Hoerlers are part of the Douglas County Youth Leader Board. With their mother, Adrienne, fighting youth vaping has become a family affair.
“A couple years ago, I knew nothing,” said Adrienne.
Now the Hoerlers are educating the public about the dangers of vaping by appearing in PSAs.
They deliver lines like “High school is hard” and “I sent an embarrassing Snapchat to the person I like.”
The teens talk about stresses other teens can relate to and they encourage kids who vape to quit.
“But no matter how messy life is, at least I don’t have a nicotine addiction to a flash drive,” says a teen in one of the PSAs.
Parents explain the seriousness.
“One vape pod can have as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes,” said a woman in another PSA.
Roberts of Tri-County Health hopes the PSA’s shift the discussion, “…away from ‘This is a problem’ to ‘We can find a solution.'”