Tompkins County launches anti-vaping campaign

The Tompkins County Health Department announced a new anti-vaping campaign recently, titled “Keep your focus, not your fix.”

The campaign – announced on Thursday, April 18 – aims to discourage vaping among youths and provide resources for those trying to kick the habit.

Over the past five weeks, blurred images of everyday life were posted around Tompkins County, only to be replaced with focused images of youth enjoying sports, reading, classroom activities, friends, and family.

These are activities that can be negatively impacted by vaping and nicotine use.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that nicotine, a highly addictive chemical found in e-cigarettes, is particularly harmful to adolescent brain development, possibly causing difficulties in learning and paying attention, lowered impulse control, memory lapses, and increased stress levels, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

According to the 2023 Tompkins County Community Level Youth Development Evaluation (CLYDE) survey, vape or e-cigarette use remains prevalent among the county’s youth.

This follows a national trend, which cemented nicotine-based vapes as one of the most used substances among middle and high school students county-wide in 2023, with 22.2% of U.S middle and high school students claiming to have used them based on data reported in the National Youth Tobacco Survey in 2023.

The Tompkins County campaign aims to change that by reminding county youth that the things they love in life can be made more difficult or give them less joy with continued nicotine use.

The campaign and its goals

The “Keep your focus, not your fix” campaign was created in partnership with Tobacco Free Zone and the Community Coalition for Healthy Youth. The concept was inspired by local youth, who offered creative guidance throughout the process.

Dr. William Klepack, Medical Director of Tompkins County Whole Health, emphasized the harmful effects of nicotine on adolescent development and urged parents, caregivers, teachers, and other youth leaders to educate themselves on the resources available to help support youth with nicotine addiction and vaping cessation in a statement from Tompkins County.

“The harmful effects of nicotine on adolescent development cannot be overstated,” he said in a statement. “Use of nicotine from an early age greatly increases risks of cancer and other life-threatening illnesses in adulthood as well.”

The campaign’s message urges youth to “keep their focus, not their fix”, encouraging them to “save their breath” for the activities they enjoy.

Each poster depicts a different activity with this message, as well as a QR code that links students to the social media of Reality Check of Tompkins, Cortland, and Chenango.

Posters have been displayed in schools throughout the Ithaca and Dryden districts, and in community settings throughout the county.

Tompkins County Whole Health Commissioner Frank Kruppa stated, “As our Tobacco Free Tompkins slogan has long stated, ‘We cannot afford another generation of tobacco addiction.’”

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