INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) recently launched a public awareness campaign to educate youths about the dangers of e-cigarettes, or “vaping.” The “Behind the Haze” campaign is part of a $2 million effort announced by Governor Eric J. Holcomb and State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, to reduce vaping among Indiana youth.

The move comes as Munster’s City Council this month banned all tobacco and vaping products from public spaces and facilities in what a backer hails as one of the most comprehensive in the state.

The Munster council approved the ordinance that bans the smoking of all tobacco products including electronic cigarettes within 15 feet of a public space or entrance to a public facility in the city. The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports a first-time offense will be written up, a second violation will result in a $200 fine and ensuing violations carry fines that escalate to $1,500 for five within a calendar year.

Irene Boone Phillips of the Lake County Tobacco Prevention Coalition says it’s “one of the most comprehensive local smoke-free air ordinances that has passed in the state in Indiana.”

“The speed at which vaping is increasing among youth is alarming, and we must protect children from a lifetime of nicotine addiction,” Governor Holcomb said. “These efforts will help curb youth vaping, educate the public on health risks and provide resources to help people who want to quit.”

Dr. Box said the Indiana Youth Tobacco Survey found the use of e-cigarettes has increased more than 350 percent among Indiana middle and high school students since 2012, which makes public awareness a critical part of protecting young Hoosiers’ health.

“Most teens don’t really know what these products contain,” Dr. Box said. “We hope that this campaign educates youth about what they could be putting into their bodies and helps protect them from the lung injuries and nicotine addiction that we are seeing across our state.”

Indiana is licensing “Behind the Haze” as part of its three-pronged Vape-Free Indiana initiative, which includes prevention, education and cessation. The effort also includes school convocations featuring the “Sweet Deception” program, which is expected to reach more than 32,000 students in 52 schools this year, peer-to-peer training and resources for schools and parents. Details and resources are available at vapefreeindiana.isdh.in.gov.

Miranda Spitznagle, director of the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission, said ISDH chose the “Behind the Haze” campaign because of its proven success in reaching teens in other states.

“We know that young people are more likely to pay attention to a message designed to change their behaviors when it’s delivered by their peers,” Spitznagle said. “This campaign speaks to youth in clear, no-nonsense language and will reach them on media platforms that they’re most likely to use, like Instagram and Facebook.”
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