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Emporia State University nursing students visited the Emporia Middle School Thursday to educate students on the dangers of vaping.

Students went through several stations, learning about the physical, mental and longstanding effects of vape use.

Kari Hess, a professor of nursing at Emporia State University, said it was important to begin educating children on vaping during middle school.

“When you look at the statistics of substance use … if you look at the data, there’s still the stigma that vaping is less harmful to the human body than smoking and it’s actually being marketed in that way,” she said. “Big Tobacco hates the fact that they don’t have the next generation of users, so they’re marketing specifically based off colors and flavors.”

Hess said her generation was brought up with the “Marlboro Man,” an advertising campaign used between 1954 – 1999. The Marlboro Man was “macho and rugged” and the campaign proved to be successful for the cigarette brand.

“Now they’re going after the next generation with vaping specifically,” Hess said. “Statistically, those who start vaping will eventually start smoking, so there’s a percentage of individuals that carries over.”

She said it was important to educate people on what was happening inside their bodies when they vape.

“You’re getting that quick fix, the release of the adrenaline, you’re getting from the hormones,” she said. “You’re getting all of the good feelings from the inside, and that’s the literature that Big Tobacco has given out. It’s supposed to be soothing and helping and all those things — and we know kids are stressed right now.”

But vaping also leads to some serious health issues.

Hess said her students use information from the Truth Initiative to illustrate the issues and support it with examples. EMS students were able to see a damaged pig lung which demonstrated the difference between a healthy lung and a diseased lunch.

ESU students also broke down the costs associated with vaping and how that could inhibit people from saving money for other things down the line.

“We had six stations total and 900 students rotated through the stations,” Hess said. “That’s the first time I’ve had that in a long time, but it’s just such an issue at the middle school and high school that administrators were willing to help me work through the logistics. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to come up with a way that we could strategically get all students through it.”

She said nursing studnets also talk about a couple of options for students wishing to quit vaping.

Hess said a box was placed in the nurse’s office at the middle school and kids that decide they are ready to dispose of their vaping items can deposit them in that box.

They can also call the Kansas Tobacco Quitline at 800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669). The helpline is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

But the best route is preventing people from starting altogether.

“I told my students that, even if there’s one kid that comes out of this day — and there will also be more — we’ve made a difference,” Hess said. “I love it when students make that connection and I love hearing that kids ‘got it’ too.”


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