Youth Vaping Prevention Video Contest Launched in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Jan. 25, 2021 - A collaboration between a broad group of Minnesota entities has launched Escape the Vape, a vaping/e-cigarette prevention video contest for Minnesota high school students. The objective of this video challenge is to engage youth to use their voices and inform their peers about the dangers of vaping/e-cigarettes.

An estimated 3.6 million young people in the U.S. use e-cigarettes according to the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Youth e-cigarette use continues at epidemic levels, including an alarming increase in youth who use disposable vape products, and 8 out of 10 youth e-cigarette users who use flavored products.

“Today’s e-cigarettes can deliver very high levels of nicotine, and they can be used surreptitiously indoors throughout the day,” noted Amelia Burgess, MD, MPH, FAAP, Pediatrician and addiction specialist at Sage Prairie Clinic, member of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “It is easy to get more nicotine from e-cigs than from traditional cigarettes. We are seeing nicotine craving and addiction occurring faster with e-cigs than with traditional cigarettes. No amount of nicotine is safe for youth as it’s highly addictive, can harm adolescent brain development, and can increase the risk for addiction to tobacco and other substances."

Escape the Vape is a collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Health, CCF Advertising, Tobacco-Free Alliance, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, MN Youth Council, MNAAP, and Allina Health Change to Chill. These organizations are united in a strong desire to undo the damage of vaping on teen health.

“Nicotine is not the only reason why e-cigarettes are harmful to young people,” noted Irina Stepanov, PhD, Mayo Professor in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health’s Division of Environmental Health Sciences. “There are numerous other chemicals that are present in e-cigarettes from the decomposition of liquids and flavors, so a young person ends up being exposed to some of the same chemicals that are present in cigarette smoke. Such chemicals can cause inflammation and damage to DNA, and they can also transform into cancer-causing chemicals in the mouth of e-cigarette users.”

Eric Li, a 10th grader from Eagan and member of the Minnesota Youth Council, a statewide group of diverse teens striving toward equity on youth issues, hopes that Escape the Vape will provide teen-to-teen learning opportunities about the harms of vaping.

“Most of my peers would never touch a cigarette and most of my peers know that vapes contain nicotine,” said Li. “Despite this, easy access to thousands of vape flavors is addicting a new generation to nicotine. I see this daily on Instagram and Snapchat. I hope that the Escape the Vape video contest provides a way for teens to let their peers know that vaping is just as gross, uncool, and dangerous as smoking.”

Minnesota high school students are being invited to create and submit a 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) video to educate their peers on the dangers of vaping. Submissions will be entered into a competition for cash prizes, with each submission being reviewed by a team of youth and adult judges.

The youth judges will then select a group of five finalists, whose videos will be posted on the Escape the Vape website. Online voting will determine the final finalist rankings. Voting will be open to the public at MNEscapeTheVape.com on March 9, 2021.

“Among Minnesota youth, one in four 11th graders uses e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use among 8th graders nearly doubled from 2016 to 2019,” said Elyse Levine Less, Executive Director of Tobacco-Free Alliance. “We believe that this contest is a crucial piece of peer-to-peer sharing regarding the dangers of vaping and e-cigarette use.”

Learn more about the contest and enter your video at MNEscapeTheVape.com.

About the Escape the Vape

Escape the Vape is a collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Health, CCF Advertising, Tobacco-Free Alliance; Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota; MN Youth Council, MNAAP, and Allina Health Change to Chill. While all uniquely different organizations, they’re each united in a strong desire to undo the damage vaping has done to teen health. Learn more and join the cause at MNEscapeTheVape.com.