MILLBURN — There’s nothing safe about vaping.
That’s the message the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey will be sharing with youth as they return from holiday break this week. PDFNJ, in collaboration with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, has unveiled a media campaign about the dangers of vaping that will be distributed to each of the more than 3,500 schools in the state.
The new campaign is being released in the midst of a nationwide explosion of teen use of vaping devices or e-cigarettes, which the United States Surgeon General declared has reached epidemic levels.
“Vaping can inflict significant damage to one’s health, especially for youth,” Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey Executive Director Angelo Valente said. “We want teens throughout the state to know the risks they are taking if they choose to use e-cigarettes and to encourage them to avoid using these potentially dangerous products.”
The campaign, which emphasizes the risks associated with vaping by comparing e-cigarette use to skydiving without a parachute, also will appear on billboards, trains and buses throughout the state. The messages include a pathway to gather additional information at VapeFactsNJ.com, the New Jersey Department of Health’s website on e-cigarettes and vaping.
“The popularity of e-cigs and vapes among youth threatens to reverse hard-fought declines in adolescent smoking and create a new generation of nicotine addicts,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “We must raise public awareness about the dangers of vaping to prevent another deadly addiction epidemic from taking root in our communities.”
Vaping is considered less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes and tobacco products, because e-cigarettes contain fewer toxic chemicals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, like regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and makes vaping devices just as addictive as cigarettes.
Nicotine raises blood pressure and spikes adrenaline, which increases a person’s heart rate and the likelihood of having a heart attack. Nicotine affects the development of adolescent brains by changing the way synapses are formed, which can negatively change parts of the brain that control attention and learning, according to the Surgeon General. Recent data also links vaping to chronic lung disease and asthma.
As of December 27, 2019, the CDC reported that 2,561 people throughout the United States had been hospitalized with severe lung injuries caused by vaping. This outbreak also was responsible for 55 deaths. In New Jersey, there have been 53 confirmed and 46 probable cases of vaping-related illness and one death, according to the Department of Health.
In 2019, more than one in four high school students reported using an e-cigarette in the previous 30 days, according to preliminary results from the CDC’s annual National Youth Tobacco Survey.
The results indicated a significant increase in teen vaping, up from 20.8 percent of high schoolers in 2018 to 27.5 percent in 2019. The use of e-cigarettes has exploded in the past decade, especially among teens. In 2011, just 1.5 percent of high school students said they used an e-cigarette.
Best known for its statewide substance use prevention advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication. To date, more than $100 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception, the Partnership has garnered 180 advertising and public relations awards from national, regional and statewide media organizations.