An important education campaign has been relaunched in Wisconsin at a time of heightened awareness in Kenosha.

We’re talking about the “Tobacco is Changing” campaign of the state Department of Health Services, which focuses on educating parents about candy-flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. These products are tempting kids into tobacco addition.

How prevalent are they?

On the campaign’s website, www.TobaccoisChanging.com, you’ll be startled when you see the following:

The first tobacco product most kids try is flavored;

Four out of five kids who’ve used tobacco tried a flavored product first;

Nicotine may cause memory and attention problems in a child’s growing brain.

The relaunch of the campaign follows the release of 2018 data showing meteoric rises in e-cigarette use among both middle and high school youth.

From 2014-18, e-cigarette use increased 272 percent among middle school students and 154 percent among high school students. Currently, one in five Wisconsin high school students currently use e-cigarettes.

“Youth vaping has reached epidemic levels in our community,” said Michelle Sandberg. coordinator of the KRW Tobacco-Free Coalition. “Schools are struggling to educate staff, parents and students quickly enough, and the products are changing faster than we can get the information out.”

“Tobacco is Changing” originally launched in late fall of 2017. The campaign made a major adjustment to its ads addressing the rise of new e-cigarettes that more closely resemble flash drives than they do cigarettes or traditional e-cigarettes. In one of the new ads, a flash drive look-alike e-cigarette product is shown with the text “Not a flash drive, parents.”

On the campaign website, parents can view the different types of tobacco products, read about issues like flavoring, packaging and menthol, get tips for talking to their kids, and even get connected with their local tobacco prevention and control coalition.

Locally, there has been heightened awareness since the Kenosha Common Council approved an ordinance that essentially puts e-cigarettes and vaping products on the same plane as traditional tobacco cigarettes.

As we’ve pointed out here previously, the focus of the ordinance is on making sure that the people using such devices are mature enough to understand what they are putting in their bodies.

With the still-fresh headlines of the new city ordinance and the education focus of the “Tobacco is Changing” campaign, parents can learn fast.

We encourage parents to take time to understand the new realities of tobacco products. We applaud the state’s timely campaign.

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