#parents | #teensvaping | Seymour students rally at Statehouse for laws against youth vaping

If Cohl Moore had it his way, no kid would ever try vaping.

As president of the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center student government, Moore knows he has a responsibility to be a leader and role model when it comes to issues that impact students.

That’s why he and his fellow student government officers are starting an anti-vaping club.

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“We obviously want to get rid of (youth vaping),” Moore said. “We have seen what it has done to teens and their lungs. In some cases, it has completely destroyed their lives.”

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, cigarette use is down among Indiana youth, but there was a more than 350% increase in e-cigarette or vaping use among middle and high school students from 2012 to 2018.

The health department says so far, the state has recorded five vaping-related deaths, and more than 120 people have been sickened.

It also impacts students socially and academically, Moore said.

“If we can fix this vaping problem, then grades will go back up, and kids will have more friends,” he said.

The idea for the anti-vaping club started when Moore, co-vice presidents Abby Mosley and Yuleimy Ruiz and treasurer Blythe Brummette attended the Youth Action Day rally Jan. 27 at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Also attending were Seymour High School students Macy Traylor, Luke Turner, Aidan Hiester and Bailey Lykins.

During the rally, more than 100 students from across the state gathered outside the offices of state representatives to ask lawmakers to pass a bill banning the sale of flavored vaping liquids as a measure to help prevent youth illness and death due to vaping.

The group was led by Moses Jones, a national speaker on vaping. He encouraged and empowered the students to keep doing what they’re doing to make a difference and to let their voices be heard.

Ruiz said most students who start vaping do so because they hang around the wrong crowd and are pressured to do it.

“They do it just to look cool, but then they get addicted,” she said. “They aren’t cool. They are just hurting themselves.”

During the Youth Action Day rally, students also met Gov. Eric Holcomb, who spoke about laws being made to help fight vaping and how they are made.

Traylor said the experience was eye-opening.

“I never really knew how much vaping had grown until I saw how much the sixth-graders knew about it and the stories they had,” she said.

By attending the event with younger students, Traylor said she and her classmates were able to set an example and have fun, too.

The trip was organized by School Resource Officer Keith Williams after he learned of the event from Brenda Turner, director of the Jackson County Drug-Free Council.

“I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to take some kids and let their voices be heard,” Williams said.

Also attending was Lin Montgomery, public health coordinator for the Jackson County Health Department

Williams said the event gave students a way to take a stand against vaping, interact with other youth who are involved and let lawmakers know they are just as passionate about issues as adults.

The experience also gave students a glimpse of how state government works, he added.

“My hope is to expose kids to the right way to make change so they have an understanding of how change is made,” he said.

Too often, people make uneducated statements about issues just to be heard, he added.

“I want them to understand that to make change, you have to want to be the right person in the right place at the right time,” he said. “They have to take the initiative and be a leader, not just complain. If young people will do that, I will open every door I possibly can for them.”

That’s why he is supporting the sixth-graders’ efforts to start an anti-vaping club. He and Montgomery will be working with the students to help organize, refine their message and let them change the world, Williams said.

“We are starting a group against vaping to try to prevent it from happening to the students,” Brummette said.

Open to all students, the club will focus on ways to keep students from trying vaping and also to provide support to students and adults who want to quit vaping.

“We don’t want it to only benefit kids, but also their parents,” Ruiz said.

The students say they also want to inform people who smoke or vape that their choice impacts the people around them from secondhand and thirdhand smoke or vape fumes.

The club will soon address the Jackson County Drug-Free Council to gain its support and also plans to address the Seymour City Council to see how the two governing bodies can work together on the issue of youth vaping.

“These young people are amazing,” Williams said. “They’ve found a cause that they believe in and are willing to put in the work.”

Williams said it’s important for adults to include and consider students’ thoughts and opinions on vaping.

“When you look at the marketing for these items, it’s obvious that the big companies are targeting young people, and it’s working,” he said.

Mosley said by banning fruity-flavored vape liquids in stores, lawmakers are helping to prevent students from trying it.

“If they get rid of the flavors, it will be less addicting for kids,” she said.

It’s not difficult to say no to vaping, Moore said.

“You just have to say you’re not interested in trying it,” he said. “It’s really that simple.”

He also believes youth have the power to make an impact through peer influence.

“100% we can because kids listen to other kids,” he said.

At issue

You can find help to quit vaping online at in.gov/isdh/tpc/2769.htm or text INDIANA to 88709 to enroll in the “This is Quitting” program, an initiative designed to help young people quit vaping.

Parents can text QUIT to 202-899-7550 to sign up to receive text messages designed specifically for parents of young people who vape.


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