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Fall 2019 Newsletter: Taking on the Youth Vape Epidemic in Schools

October 7, 2019

As teachers and educators, you are already familiar with the sneaky tactics used by vape companies and you know how serious the problem is. Not only are tobacco and e-cigarette companies targeting young people with colorful packaging, flavors, ads, and gimmicks, but smokeless tobacco and e-cigarette use has skyrocketed—on an epidemic scale!

Products like JUUL are creating a whole new generation of nicotine addicts and replacement smokers – completely reversing the progress made in the last 30 years to reduce tobacco use among youth.

In response to The Surgeon General’s Report on E-cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults, the South Dakota Tobacco Control Program has launched a new campaign to provide information and resources related to the health dangers of vape products and to prevent young people from starting a life-long nicotine addiction.

Please share these core messages with your staff, students, and their parents:

  • Vape is NOT harmless and is NOT a safe alternative to smoking.
  • Most products contain concentrated nicotine – which is extremely addictive – and especially dangerous for young people.
  • Nicotine causes irreversible damage to developing brains (up to age 24).
  • Products like JUUL deliver nicotine nearly 3x faster than other e-cigarette devices making it easy for addiction to sneak up on you .
  • Vape users are 4x more likely to start smoking.
  • SD QuitLine services are available to vape and tobacco users ages 13 and older.

Fight Back!

FREE Counter-marketing Materials

According to South Dakota YRBS data, 53% of high schoolers think e-cigs are safer than smoking. There’s a lot you can do to change their minds:

Share the Facts

You’ll find evidence-based facts and links to verified sources on these websites, and tools to connect those who need help quitting (ages 13 and up) to the South Dakota QuitLine:

Order Support Materials

The SD Department of Health is providing bulletin-board-worthy materials to help fight against the bait used to hook kids on nicotine products. 

Digital downloads are available at: BeFreeSD Media Library

You can order FREE printed materials, from the SD Department of Health including:

  • Handouts
  • Posters
  • Rack Cards
  • Banners

Click on the Tobacco Prevention tab (the one at the very bottom), find the items you want to order, and enter how many you’ll need.

Update Your School Policy to Include Vape

Keeping schools vape-free starts with a clear policy. School tobacco policies have to say vape is not harmless!

Take a look at our K-12 tobacco-free model policy. If your school doesn’t already have an up-to-date-including-vape policy, share this resource with your colleagues. For training and support, contact your Regional Tobacco Prevention Coordinator.

Incorporate Tobacco Prevention in Your Curriculum

For activities, ideas, and resources to help spread the truth about tobacco and e-cigs check out our K-12 Tobacco Prevention Toolkit. The toolkit provides effective strategies for prevention and includes information on:

  • Adopting a vape/tobacco-free buildings and grounds policy
  • Utilizing tobacco prevention curriculum
  • Implementing evidence-based tobacco prevention activities

Regulatory Update

Smoke-Free Law

As of July 1, 2019 – South Dakota passed legislation to include e-cigarettes and other vaping products in the definition of a tobacco product, making them subject to the same regulations and the smoking ban.

This means vaping (just like smoking) is now prohibited in public buildings and places of employment, including restaurants, bars, and casinos/gaming establishments. The law requires business owners, managers, and operators of places where smoking is prohibited to inform violators of the ban.

FDA Turns Up the Heat

On September 9, 2019 – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to JUUL Labs Inc. for marketing unauthorized modified risk tobacco products by engaging in labeling, advertising, and/or other activities directed to consumers, including a presentation given to youth at a school. The agency also sent a letter to the company expressing concern, and requesting more information, about several issues raised in a recent Congressional hearing regarding JUUL’s outreach and marketing practices, including those targeted at students, tribes, health insurers and employers. These letters are the latest in a series of actions the agency has taken as part of its continued commitment to providing strong oversight of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and the latest development in the FDA’s ongoing investigation related to JUUL.

See the full press release from the FDA.

Trump Administration Cracks Down on Flavored Products

On September 11, 2019 – the Trump Administration announced that as part of its ongoing work to tackle the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, the FDA intends to finalize a compliance policy in the coming weeks that would prioritize the agency’s enforcement of the premarket authorization requirements for non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol, clearing the market of unauthorized, non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products. The FDA plans to share more on the specific details of the plan and its implementation soon.

“The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”  

See the full press release from the FDA.

The Big Sick: Vaping Related Illness in SD

As of September 19, 2019 – the South Dakota Department of Health reported six confirmed cases of vaping related illness among residents aged 18-44 years. South Dakota joins 33 states who have reported cases of severe respiratory illness from e-cigarettes.

Patients typically experienced respiratory symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain, and may also experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or fatigue.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends individuals consider not using e-cigarette products while the investigation is ongoing. The South Dakota QuitLine offers free coaching to quit tobacco and vaping product use for people 13 years and older. South Dakotans can enroll in the program by calling 1.866.SD QUITS or by visiting

For updates on the outbreak of lung disease associated with e-cigarette use or vaping: SD Department of Health

A Step in the Right Direction

On September 25, 2019 – JUUL’s CEO stepped down and the company announced they will suspend all broadcast, print, and digital product advertising in the US. This is good news, but…

JUUL ran their “switching campaign” in newspapers and on TV across the state this summer. To be clear – their mission is to get adult smokers to switch to JUUL rather than to address nicotine addiction. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that is especially dangerous for young people and pregnant women.

While JUUL maintains their products are for adults, much of the damage has already been done – the evidence shows our youth are quickly becoming the next generation of nicotine addicts because they are experimenting with and becoming addicted to vape products.

Let’s work together to make sure teens and parents understand the risks and have the facts.

Keep in Touch

We welcome your input and feedback. If you have questions about the media efforts, need help sharing or want more information contact your Regional Tobacco Prevention Coordinator, fill out a Contact Us Form, or drop a note to Rebecca at the Tobacco Control Program:

We’ll do our best to get you the tools and support you need to help combat the vape epidemic.