Health foundation offers four new public service announcements about dangers of teen e-cig use; offers them free to anyone

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has released four new public service announcements to show the dangers of using e-cigarettes for youth. The announcements are part of the foundation’s “I Just Didn’t Know” campaign and feature Kentucky teens.

The new PSAs include two 30-second videos for television and a 30-second and 60-second audio PSA for radio. Additionally, the campaign provides PSAs that were released in April. The campaign materials are free to anyone who would like to use them.

“Over and over, we hear that teens – and sometimes even their parents – just don’t understand the significant health risks of kids using these highly addictive tobacco products,” Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the foundation, said in a news release. “We’re doing all we can to help pass laws that restrict youth access, but we know that most kids are going to be making the final decision themselves. When someone leans over and urges them to buy an e-cig, we want to make sure they have a clear, factual understanding of all the reasons to avoid becoming a pawn of the tobacco industry.”

A 2018 federal report found that one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students used e-cigarettes, a 78% jump for high schoolers over 2017 and a 48% jump for middle schoolers.

A 2018 state poll found that Kentucky’s high-school seniors report the highest use of e-cigarettes, with 27 % of them reporting they had tried the product, up from 12% in 2016.

E-cigarettes do not release harmless vapors, but instead contain substances such as ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavorings, like diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious, irreversible lung disease; volatile organic compounds that are known to be carcinogenic; other cancer causing chemicals; and heavy metals, including nickel, tin and lead, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They also contain high levels of nicotine, which not only creates a powerful addiction, but can also harm the brain development of youth, and reduce attention span and impulse control, says the release. Nicotine use in adolescence can also prime the brain for future addiction to other drugs, says the CDC.

In one of the PSAs, Hayley from Grant County says, “A lot of people don’t know that one little pod of this e-cigarette is equal to a whole pack of cigarettes.”

One of the most popular e-cigarette brands with teens is the Juul, largely because they look like an oversized computer flash drive, are easy to conceal and come with flavorings. One Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.

“We regularly hear stories of kids using several e-cig juice pods a day, which means they inhale multiple packs of cigarettes worth of nicotine,” Chandler said. “No wonder the FDA is investigating incidences of seizures associated with youth e-cig use.”

On Aug. 7, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it was investigating 127 reports of seizures, tremors, fainting or other neurological symptoms that may be related to electronic cigarettes, and have asked anyone who has experienced such symptoms to report them.

All the PSAs can be found at www.ijustdidntknow.org. Contact Alexa Kerley at 877-326-2583 or akerley@healthy-ky.org for broadcast quality copies of them.

Drug Free Lexington has also recently released PSAs aimed at educating e-cig users about their harmful effects are also free for all to use.