JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville and Daily’s have partnered to launch a campaign that aims to make middle and high school students aware of the dangers of vaping.
The campaign comes as U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said vaping has become a nationwide “epidemic.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 57 people had died, including in Florida and Georiga, as a result of vaping-related illnesses.
Both the city and Daily’s have pledged $100,000 apiece to the campaign, which was officially announced by city leaders at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
“It is vitally important that retailers — along with local officials, school administrators, parents and our entire community — work together to educate the youth in our community about the imminent health risks associated with underage vaping,”said Aubrey Edge, president and CEO of Daily’s.
Exactly how the $200,000 will be divided up has still not been decided. In the coming weeks, the city will solicit bids from advertising and public relations firms to create the campaign, with goals of reducing the use of vaping products among Jacksonville’s youth and educating them about the health risks. Edge said the key is understanding what’s causing teens to vape in the first place
“One of the things that kids keep saying is that, ‘I hear it makes me feel more relaxed,'” Edge said. “Why do kids keep needing to feel relaxed? What are the pressure points in this era of social media and 24/7 access to phones and gaming and the pressures of school? We need to figure out why.”
As a father of three, Mayor Lenny Curry said the campaign hits close to home
“True success will also depend on the parents,” the mayor said. “I encourage them to get involved in this campaign.”
Curry added that they plan to not only look at PSAs on radio and TV, but also on social media since that is such a big part of teens’ lives. He also hinted that the money would not just go toward PSAs, but peer-to-peer mentoring programs.
City Councilman Ron Salem is a pharmacist who is helping to lead the local discussion.
“This will hopefully lead to a decrease in use within our community and help solve this crisis,” Salem said.
The city should expect to see the plan in about two months.
The most recent vaping restriction, implemented by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, banned most flavored e-cigarette products. Officials said they appeal to children and young adults. The United States also raised the age to buy tobacco to 21.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 9.5% of eighth-graders admitted to using e-cigarettes. That number jumped to 16.2% for high school seniors. The institute also found that twice as many boys as girls use e-cigarettes.
The institute also said there is data that shows some teens who begin using e-cigarettes eventually turn to traditional cigarettes. According to the institute, more than 30% of teens who used e-cigarettes started smoking within six months.
In Jacksonville, city leaders said, the idea is to stop this problem before it gets worse.
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