Kansas State Board of Education creates anti-vaping campaign

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Health officials say vaping has reached epidemic proportions among teens.

A Centers for Disease Control survey found vaping went up 78 percent among high school students from 2017 to 2018.

14-year-old Destiny Becker is an incoming freshman at Highland Park High School. She says students her age aren't strangers to vaping.

"I saw it at the beginning of 8th grade that’s when the whole vaping thing was a thing," Becker explained. "I see it on Snapchat, or when the carnival was in town I saw [vaping] like everywhere."

The Kansas State Board of Education wants to do something about it -- members this week unanimously voted to create an anti-vaping campaign.

Board member Ann Mah says what is really scary is that vaping products are more dangerous than tobacco in terms of addictiveness.

“We are also finding that students are putting juice from marijuana and crushed up drugs in their vaping pods,” Mah said.

She believes vaping businesses are targeting young people.

"You know the producers who put this stuff together are very smart, you drive to Highland Park High School there's a vaping store right across the street… they are intentionally marketing to kids because you get kids hooked, you’ve got a lifelong customer and we've got to stop it," Mah stated.

The board is putting together a 20 person task force made up of health, law, and school officials. They will meet monthly and make recommendations.

“We've asked them to move forward on getting new signage at schools that say not only no tobacco, but clearly no vaping,” Mah explained. “We are also asking the Attorney General’s Office to get involved and legislators so that we can we can make any changes to that law that they may need to when they come back in January."

Becker says adults are up against a powerful trend.

"I think it’s everywhere because people want to look cool, and they use it usually to take their stress off that’s what I heard a lot,” Becker said.

Health officials are concerned increased e-cigarette use is making tobacco use rates start to climb again. According to drugabuse.gov teen boys are twice as likely as girls to pick up the vaping habit.