Vaping products, according to health experts, can contain as much, if not more, nicotine as traditional cigarettes.

Vaping products, according to health experts, can contain as much, if not more, nicotine as traditional cigarettes.

File photo by Tiffany Esshaki


Vaping PSA contest open to FPS students

Local groups hope to educate, raise awareness of youth vaping

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published February 26, 2020

 Oakland County Health Division Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford, left, and Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities President and CEO Julie Brenner chat after a 2019 press conference about an Oakland County youth anti-vaping initiative.

Oakland County Health Division Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford, left, and Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities President and CEO Julie Brenner chat after a 2019 press conference about an Oakland County youth anti-vaping initiative.

File photo by Tiffany Esshaki

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FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — The Farmington Area PTA Council, Farmington Youth Assistance and the Farmington Area Optimist Club have joined forces to host a student-produced vaping public service announcement contest in the hopes that more preventative education and awareness can safeguard students from the consequences of vaping.

The contest is open to students at the elementary, middle and high school levels, with a $500 prize to fund a community project of each level winner’s choosing waiting at the end of the contest. High school contestants will also have a chance to win individual prizes of $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $100 for third place, in addition to the $500 given to first place for a community project. Students can work individually or in teams.

High school and middle school contestants should submit a 60- to 90-second video that “raises awareness about the impact of vaping on a student’s health, their community, their family, and ways to avoid peer pressure,” states the contest guidelines. Videos can take the form of documentary, animation, stop-motion graphics, live action, interviews or silent film.

The elementary-age campaign’s focus is on healthy lungs. Contestants should submit a tri-fold poster that explains how lungs work, why healthy lungs are important and what keeps lungs strong.

Submissions for all three levels of the contest are due April 7, and winners at each level will be announced May 1.

The contest, Farmington Area PTA Council President Beth Hulett said, is one aspect among a larger initiative the PTA Council has been working on for the last year to provide vaping education awareness in the district.

After hosting a focus group with Farmington High School students who wanted to hear from their peers about vaping, and talking with Farmington Youth Assistance case worker Jessica Wallace, Hulett knew peer-led PSAs would have the most impact.

“Kids listen to each other. They don’t listen to adults as much, so it’s more impactful for their peers to be relaying that message to the others. It’s different than an adult telling them not to do something,” Wallace added.

The motivation to create the contest is both reactive and proactive, Hulett said.

“Do kids experiment? Absolutely. Where one of the biggest concerns comes in is we have kids — not a lot, but some — who are addicted to vaping and nicotine,” she said. “That’s where this sort of shifted gears, upon realizing we need to do more to be proactive.”

According to data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, youth e-cigarette use rose from 3.6 million teens in 2018 to 5.4 million in 2019. Over those more than 5 million teens, nearly 1 million use e-cigarettes daily, and about 1.6 million use them 20 or more days a month.

When compared to other tobacco products, e-cigarettes ranked as the most highly used products by middle and high school students, the study states.

As of Feb. 20, The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has reported four confirmed deaths from vaping-associated lung injuries. MDHHS has received 73 confirmed or probable vaping-associated lung injuries since Aug. 2019.

Wallace hopes earlier intervention, education and enlightenment from the PSAs produced will help kids “realize it’s not worth the risk.” She said that, aside from the documented possible health concerns, there could be other social, economic or legal consequences stemming from vaping.

“We don’t want just punitive consequences. We want to try to get to the kids before they get to the point where they’re getting in trouble with the law or they have an addiction,” Hulett added. “If it comes to that, we want to give them support and provide connections so they can get help.”

The overall goal is to get the conversation started.

“Once that conversation is started, the hope is that it’s going to continue and they’ll educate more people just by word of mouth and seeing the anti-vaping campaigns out there,” Wallace said.

Hulett said she’s excited to see the creativity, talent and awareness contestants bring to the table.

For more information, contact Farmington Youth Assistance at (248) 489-3434 or Hulett at bethhulett@aol.com.

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