Health units across Ontario kicked off their Use Your Instincts campaign last week.
In Simcoe, the Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit began the campaign at Holy Trinity Catholic High School with a booth to teach the students about the dangers of vaping.
The program was created to combat the impact of vaping advertising being able to reach teenagers online, in stores, and on billboards. Vaping is advertised as the safer alternative to smoking, but the health unit wants students to understand that the safest alternative is to not smoke or vape at all.
“We want students to know that vaping isn’t harmless,” said Julie Richardson, health promoter at the health unit. “There are chemicals that they are breathing in while they are vaping, there are laws around youth not being able to purchase vaping products if they are under 19, and really to know facts and make their decisions based on that.”
As of Jan. 1 vape products will not be able to be advertised in convenience stores or gas stations in Ontario. This restriction is intended to lessen the extent of teens being exposed to the idea of vaping.
“We want them to understand that vaping companies are trying to send a certain message to try to promote it as being less harmful and attractive for youth, but we want teens to know there are harms and we don’t know the long term effects,” said Richardson.
While students visited the booth they had the opportunity to participate in a demonstration that showed the difference between vapour and aerosols. They also answered trivia questions and engaged with the campaign on social media.
Grade 11 student Mya Van Dyk learned just how many teenagers in Ontario vape, which is 14.6 per cent.
“A lot of kids vape, it’s bad,” said Van Dyk. “People are vaping more than smoking.”
Van Dyk agreed that it feels like there are pressures placed on teenagers to try vaping.
The demonstration at the booth compared a spray bottle full of water to a can of hairspray. Students learned that the “vape” from vaping is much more similar to the aerosol can of sticky hairspray than it is to the actual water vapour in the spray bottle.
Public health nurses and health promoters will be attending every high school in Haldimand and Norfolk in the next month to bring the message to all students.
The campaign website can be visited at www.unfilteredfacts.ca/vaping