Making North Dakota Tobacco-Free

Bismarck Burleigh Public Health (BBPH) and Tobacco-Free North Dakota (TFND) are advocating for change.  A Youth Action Summit (YAS) will soon be held, to help prevent and expose the dangers of smoking and vaping, particularly in youth. It's set to take place in just a couple days (March 30th, 2022) at the Ramkota Hotel, in Bismarck, and is offered at no cost.

What to expect: 

150 middle school students will be present, learning about the dangers of tobacco. Kim Homer-Vagadori, a national speaker from the California Youth Advocacy Network, is being brought in to speak. She plans to educate our young ones on how the tobacco industry markets its products and even pushes 'fun' vape flavors to kids.

Imagine this:

Our kids are seeing their peers vaping all over TikTok. -- They see it as 'cool.' ...And to make matters worse, 'Big tobacco' has made vape products candy and fruit-flavored, specifically targeted to a young kids' taste pallet. Underhanded, is it not?

It's a big problem:

According to the 2021's Youth Risk Behavior Survey data, vaping is a major problem. 21.2 percent of North Dakota high school students vape. If you're wondering, that's higher than North Dakota's adult e-cigarette use rates, which currently sit at 17.9 percent usage. The survey does show a decrease in youth smoking rates over the years, but the fight is nowhere near over.

The goal:

BBPH hopes this summit will give kids the tools they need to recognize these marketing ploys and help them become advocates against them.

I spoke with Jordyn Schaefbauer, a Tobacco Prevention Specialist with Bismarck Burleigh Public Health, she said she's been organizing this event for quite some time.

"I’ve been planning one every year for the last 7 years. It’s so cool to see the kids take what they learn and use it to educate their communities, and help prevent addiction."

Other things to know:

"Take Down Tobacco: National Day of Action" is coming up this Friday, April 1st, and ""World No Tobacco Day" will follow May 31st, 2022. Students who attend the summit will be working in their schools and communities to create activities in honor of these days of awareness.



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