In the face of widespread teen vaping locally and nationally, two West Hartford college students have produced videos to promote the idea that it’s dangerous and uncool.
“No one smokes cigarettes at my age, but I know kids of all grades who vape,” said Eleanor Farquhar, an eighth-grader at Bristol Middle School.
Farquhar’s 41-second video was one of two winners in the city’s recent Escape The Vape public service announcement competition. Both
“Vaping is not cool” was the theme of his video, which can be seen youtube.be/7KViyXqPkVg.
At Conard High School, Grade 10 student Miles Moynihan produced the other winner, “What’s in Your Vape?” posted to youtube.be/lDOJ0Hzmc4s.
Like their counterparts across the country, educators and youth advocates in West Hartford have worked to reduce the widespread popularity of vaping among middle and high school students.
Although there are no reliable recent statistics locally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that youth vaping remained prevalent in 2021. About 2 million middle and high school students reported having used e-cigarettes in 2021, the agency announced in March. in its annual National Youth Smoking Survey.
The most recent data from the state Department of Public Health indicates that about 27% of Connecticut high school students have tried vaping at least once, compared to just 15% who have tried conventional cigarettes.
The agency said more than half of high school students who tried e-cigarettes used the devices for substances other than nicotine, such as marijuana, hash oil or THC. Connecticut public health advocates warn that mood disorders, addiction, memory and cognitive deficits, and loss of impulse control are among the long-term effects of vaping.
Kelly Waterhouse, city social worker and liaison with the local Juvenile Review Board, said young people in West Hartford were vaping at an alarming rate and contributing to school disruption.
West Hartford, which has sponsored student roundtables and community talks on the risks of vaping, held a contest this winter to inspire students to produce videos for other students.
The city’s Department of Social Services, the West Hartford Prevention Partnership and West Hartford Community Interactive collaborated on the contest.
Students who competed were able to attend a virtual video training with West Hartford Community Interactive executive director Jennifer Evans, director/editor Nild Sansone, West Hartford social worker Kelly Waterhouse and Yale researcher Tricia Dahl, who has worked on research projects on e-cigarettes and the teen substance. abuse.
Moynihan focused his video on the different toxins that can be found in a vape. In a statement, he said: “Kids in my own school are vaping, and I wanted to learn more and send a message about how it affects young people.”
Farquhar’s video confronts perhaps the most common reason young people cite when they start vaping: it looks cool.
“Among college students who had previously used e-cigarettes, peer use and curiosity were the most cited reasons for trying e-cigarettes for the first time in 2021,” the CDC reported this spring.
“Vaping isn’t cool – unless you think breathing in deadly chemicals is cool,” a narrator’s voice says over Farquhar’s video as images of weed killer and formaldehyde flash across the screen. “Vaping isn’t cool unless you think coughing up blood, coronary heart disease, or a collapsed lung is cool.”
Five things you need to know
We provide the latest coronavirus coverage in Connecticut every weekday morning.
Farquhar, 13, said this week that at his school, vaping hazards have been on the curriculum since at least sixth grade. She said vaping seems to become more common around eighth grade.
“I mostly see it outside of sports games,” she said. “People who don’t vape are put in an embarrassing situation – the person who vapes feels like they’re better off because they’re doing what we’re not supposed to.
“It’s Pandora’s box — they hear ‘don’t open it’ and they want to open it. They think, ‘I’m cool, I’m better than you,’ so if you don’t, you’re in a weird place,” she said. “It’s hard to talk.”
Farquhar’s video points out that research has concluded that vaping reduces a pleasure-producing chemical in the brain, which ultimately undermines the effect many users seek.
“Some kids my age have a mental health crisis, they turn to vaping as a coping mechanism — but it’s a bad coping mechanism,” she said. “Vaping lowers dopamine.
The CDC points out that vaping has been linked to depression and reported this spring that about 65% of all high school students who use tobacco products are “seriously thinking” about quitting.
“Among college students who currently used e-cigarettes, the most cited reasons for use were feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression and the ‘high or buzz’ associated with nicotine,” the CDC reported in its annual survey.