The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recently relaunched its “Tobacco is Changing” campaign, which focuses on educating parents about candy flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, that are tempting kids into tobacco addiction. Tara Noye of the South Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition says the campaign couldn’t come at a better time.

“Vaping nicotine is now the second most used substance behind alcohol with our youth,” said Noye. “Schools struggle with detection of devices and use in bathrooms due to the discreet shapes and fruity flavors of the devices.”

The relaunch of the campaign follows the release of 2018 data showing meteoric rises in e-cigarette use among both middle and high school youth. From 2014 to 2018, e-cigarette use increased 272% among middle school students, and 154% among high school students. Latest data show one in five Wisconsin high school students are currently using e-cigarettes.

“Tobacco is Changing” originally launched in late fall of 2017. One major adjustment the campaign made in its newest batch of ads is addressing the rise of new e-cigarettes which more closely resemble flash drives than they do cigarettes or e-cigarettes. In one of the campaign’s new ads, a flash drive look-a-like e-cigarette product is shown with the text “Not a flash drive, parents.”

“When we are educating parents and teachers in the community, they are shocked at the shapes these devices come in. The market and trends change faster than most adults can keep up. Youth are drawn to the thousands of flavors e-juice can come in like gummy bear, fruit melody, and unicorn puke.”

Parents can learn more at www.TobaccoisChanging.com, where they can view the different types of tobacco products, read about issues like flavoring, packaging, and menthol, get tips for talking to their kids, and even get connected with their local tobacco prevention and control coalition.

For more on either the campaign or local health efforts in Juneau County, the South Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition invites community members to contact Tara at 608-847-9373 or follow us on Facebook. The South Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition also reminds all tobacco users that free help is available by calling the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669). Individuals enrolled in Medicaid can also talk to their doctor about the free services offered through the Medicaid Cessation Benefit.