Gov. Reynolds launches public awareness campaign to combat youth vaping

Reynolds vaping campaign

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced the “Escape the Vape” campaign today at Johnston Middle School.

(Submitted by the Iowa Dept. of Education)

DES MOINES –  Today, Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Iowa Department of Education launched a new vaping awareness and prevention campaign aimed at informing teens about the reality of vaping and its consequences, and helping parents know how to address the issue and protect their kids. The press conference was held at Johnston Middle School.

The “Vaping vs. Reality” video can be viewed here.

The “Hiding in Plain Sight” video can be viewed here.

“As a mom, grandma and governor of Iowa, I believe we have an opportunity and a responsibility to combat the teen vaping epidemic,” said Gov. Reynolds. “By increasing awareness and education on the known risks of vaping, we can help prevent our young people from setting themselves up for a lifelong addiction to nicotine. Working together as a team we can address the issue holistically, and effectively reach teens and parents with the right information.”

“This campaign will reach both youth and their parents by encouraging young people to avoid vaping, and by supporting parents and teachers with information and tools to help prevent their children from using these harmful products,” said Iowa Department of Public Health Director Gerd Clabaugh.

Gov with ISTEP Students

Gov. Kim Reynolds (left) speaks with JMS ISTEP students about the state’s new anti-vaping campaign.

“Schools play a critical role in this work because of the connections and relationships that staff members have built with students, families and communities,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “We must equip schools with tools and information about the vaping epidemic so that students are better prepared to make safe, healthy decisions.”

This multi-pronged campaign includes a fully digital marketing campaign with elements targeting teens and parents separately with unique messaging delivered through their preferred channels, including SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Hulu and more.

The campaign will also leverage school nurses, teachers and administrators and ensure they have the tools and information to help educate students and parents. Additionally, through already-existing state programs IStep and Your Life Iowa, the state of Iowa will provide a ready resource where kids and parents alike can get a variety of information for their specific situation.

Youth vaping has more than doubled nationally since 2017. Today, 1 in 4 high schoolers vapes, and 1 in 9 high school seniors reports vaping on a near-daily basis. In Iowa, the percentage of 11th graders who said they currently vaped went from 9% in 2016 to more than 22% in 2018.  With some brands, using just one vaping pod is the equivalent of smoking 20 cigarettes. These statistics underscore the need for a coordinated, multi-pronged campaign to address the vaping epidemic.