Indiana launches campaign to stop teen vaping

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than 18% of Indiana high school students and more than 5% of Indiana middle school students say they use e-cigarettes, according to a new study administered by the state.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and Dr. Kris Box, state health commissioner, on Thursday announced a statewide campaign to get teens to stop vaping.

Just last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it knew of 193 potential cases of severe lung disease in more than a dozen states that could have been caused by vaping.

“We’ve seen 24 of those cases here in Indiana and get calls about more every single day,” Box said Thursday.

A new Indiana Department of Health study showed cigarette use was down among Hoosier high school and middle school students from 2012-2018. Use of e-cigarettes increased more than 300% over the same period.

Dr. John Kunzer, a physician with Community Health Network, offered News 8 some possible explanations for that increase.

“It could be flavors, it could be accessibility, it could be the ‘cool thing to do.’ It could be lack of knowledge. It could be social pressure as well,” Kunzer said.

The state’s campaign to stop teen vaping includes an educational toolkit for students and parents and a youth text-to-quit program.

“The best thing we can do is to make sure they never start. This is a way to make sure we’re getting at it at the very beginning when it’s being introduced through different means, through different flavors, through different approaches,” Holcomb said.

“We’re attacking this problem with urgency and with significant resources because these products that are billed as kid-friendly are anything but that,” Box said.

Doctors and officials on site Thursday at Fishers High School believe the new plan will work.

“We know this is not just a school issue. We also encourage parents, students and the entire school community to be mindful of the dangers inherent in tobacco and tobacco-related products,” said Jason Urban, principal of Fishers High School.

State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, a Republican from Beech Grove, released this statement about the state’s plan:

“These numbers are shocking, and more must be done to keep these addictive and dangerous products out of the hands of young Hoosiers. Unfortunately, most are unaware of the dangers of e-cigarettes, and some are even led to believe this is a healthier alternative to smoking, which is untrue. I will continue to work closely with Governor Holcomb and the department of health on solutions to encourage all Hoosiers – especially teenagers – to adopt safe and healthy lifestyles.”

If you need help to quit smoking or vaping, you’ll find free resources here:

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