DHS Relaunches Tobacco Prevention Campaign to Address Youth E-cigarette Epidemic
In early 2019, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) issued a rare health advisory on youth e-cigarette use in response to new data showing skyrocketing vape use among Wisconsin teens (from 8% of high school students in 2014 to 20% in 2018). DHS is continuing to build on the awareness created by the advisory with the relaunch of their Tobacco is Changing media campaign across the state.
Tobacco is Changing, which originally debuted in November 2017, focuses on providing education to Wisconsin parents on the candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products enticing today’s kids.
“We’re concerned about kids using any tobacco product. Tobacco can harm developing minds and bodies, and teens are more likely to stay addicted as adults, leading to harmful and fatal health consequences down the road”, said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. “With that in mind, we’ve added new elements to the campaign to ensure it reflects the changing tobacco landscape and the new ways young people are getting addicted.”
Those new elements include a greater focus on pod-based e-cigarette products, which closely resemble flash drives or other objects found in a classroom. The popularity of these products coincided with the sharp rise in youth e-cigarette use that Wisconsin and other states have experienced.
For the relaunch, Tobacco is Changing is focusing heavily on the digital space by including social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram, and adding new interactive mobile ads. All campaign materials direct parents to TobaccoisChanging.com, where they can see the different types of tobacco products tempting kids, learn more about issues like flavoring and packaging, get tips for talking to their kids, and even get in contact with their local tobacco prevention coalition.
“DHS will continue to monitor the trends in tobacco products, especially those targeting children, to keep parents informed. Our goal is to see a dramatic decline in the use of these products by Wisconsin youth”, said Deputy Secretary Willems Van Dijk.
Governor Tony Evers’ 2019-2021 state budget calls for a $6.6 million investment toward reducing youth tobacco use, including efforts to limit access to e-cigarettes.