At the beginning of October, Gov. Mike Parson signed an executive order directing three state departments to develop a statewide campaign to educate, warn, and deter the use of vaping devices among Missouri’s youth. This week, Gov. Parson unveiled the state’s Clear the Air youth vaping awareness campaign to bring attention to the risks of using electronic cigarettes and vaping products.
In announcing the launch of the new program, Parson said, “One of the most important responsibilities I have as Governor is to protect the health and well-being of our future generations. Vaping is truly an epidemic among our youth, and we must take action now to educate them about the potential risks of these products.”
Parson said theDepartments of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and Public Safety (DPS) have spent the last month working hard to develop the campaign. The departments worked together with partners from additional state departments and external agencies to learn more about the epidemic and how existing resources could be used for education on e-cigarette use.
The Clear the Air campaign will educate Missourians on the dangers associated with youth vaping by dispelling myths and providing facts about how the products and chemicals impact the health and brain development of our youth. The social media portion of the Clear the Air campaign, which consists of graphics and a series of videos specifically targeting Missouri’s youth, launched on YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat today. A website for youth to learn more about the public health issue was also created at stopthevapemissouri.org.
In a news release, Parson noted that the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) enforces Missouri and federal laws that ban the sale of tobacco and vaping products to persons under age 18. Each year, ATC conducts about 6,000 enforcement operations and inspections of retailers across the state. Over the last month, ATC’s six full-time tobacco and vaping enforcement agents have emphasized enforcement efforts at retailers who sell vaping products.
The state ATC supervisor said, “Our enforcement operations show that across Missouri, 83 percent of retailers are checking IDs and refusing sales to those who are under age 18. We’re confident that through continuing enforcement and merchant education and training we can move the compliance percentage closer to 100 percent. Even more important, we’d like to see fewer and fewer young people tempted by vaping. We believe the Clear the Air campaign can help make that happen, and we’re committed to working with everyone interested in fighting this threat to the health of Missouri’s youth.”
As always, it is an honor to represent you!
Representative Allen Andrews, District 1, Missouri State Capitol, Room 407, 201 West Capitol Avenue, Jefferson City, MO 65101
Allen Andrews is the First District State Representative.