- Department of Public Health
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration launches campaign to combat teen vaping
Ann Scales, Director of Media Relations
BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration launched a statewide public information campaign to raise awareness among middle and high-school aged youth about the dangers of vapes and e-cigarette use. State officials announced the public health campaign alongside student advocates during an event at the State House in observance of Massachusetts’ Take Down Tobacco Day — a day of activism that empowers youth to stand out and speak up against tobacco companies.
“We took an important step alongside our colleagues in the Legislature last year to prevent addiction among young people and encourage healthy choices by raising the legal age for buying tobacco to 21,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We look forward to the public awareness this important campaign will bring to young people across Massachusetts about the harmful effects tobacco products can have on their lives.”
In January, the Baker-Polito Administration proposed applying the current 40 percent excise tax imposed on cigars and smoking tobacco to include vape products, as well as a 13.75 percent retail tax on electronic cigarettes.
The latest statewide data shows 41 percent of Massachusetts high school students have tried e-cigarettes at least once. About 20 percent of them reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days – a rate six times higher than adults. Nearly 10 percent of middle school students say they have tried e-cigarettes.
“Vaping is a public health crisis, and young people who vape are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “It is essential that young people understand the serious risks associated with these products and be empowered to make informed, healthy choices.”
The campaign, Different Products, Same Dangers, links the dangers of vaping to cigarette smoking, and was developed with the input of middle and high school students across the state as well as student leaders from The 84 Movement against teen tobacco use who helped organize Kick Butts Day.
``The same marketing tactics used by the tobacco industry to get young people addicted to cigarettes is being used to promote vaping and e-cigarettes,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH who wrote an Op-Ed earlier this year urging parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of vaping. ``These are not harmless products – like cigarettes, they are dangerous and they are addictive for young people.”
Vaping products are sold in nearly 8,000 flavors, many of them sweetened to appeal to young palates. They’re cheaply priced to encourage impulse buys and they’re easy to get – available at gas stations, corner stores, mini-marts and other convenient locations.
Different Products, Same Dangers will be featured online, via social media channels and on billboards beginning this month. The campaign also includes posters, flyers and removable graphics to place on school bathroom mirrors and stalls.
This is the second public information campaign DPH has dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of vaping. DPH’s first campaign, the New Look of Nicotine Addiction which was launched last year, sought to educate the parents of middle and high-school age children about the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes.
The Tobacco 21 law Governor Baker signed last summer raised the age to purchase e-cigarettes from 18 to 21, expanded the ban on workplace smoking to include e-cigarettes, and prohibited pharmacies from selling e-cigarettes.
For more information on vaping and the campaign, visit mass.gov/vaping.