Abstract | May 7, 2021

Facing the Fumes: Community Advocacy to Address a Youth Vaping Crisis

Presenting Author: Issa Hanna, MD, Resident PGY-3, Department of Pediatric, University of Florida-College of Medicine, Jacksonville, FL

Coauthors: Rita Nathawad, MD, Assistant Professor, Pediatric, University of Florida, Jacksonville, Florida

Learning Objectives

  1. Demonstrate how to develop an advocacy initiative using a current trainee's experience.
  2. Identify resources which can be used when developing an advocacy initiative.

E-cigarettes have been the most used tobacco products among youth since 2014.Using an e-cigarette is sometimes called “vaping” .In the past year, our pediatric program has cared for several teenagers with vaping related illnesses. Seeing these previously healthy teens struggling to breathe was the motivation behind this project.

Reduce children’s access to vaping products and increase awareness of vaping harms in Northeast Florida area.

An initial phase included a comprehensive literature search. This was followed by a review of existing educational resources for vaping. Collaborations were formed with local organizations to create a local task force. We identified outlets to target to promote awareness of the issues. Review of current legislative bills to identify vaping related policies was also performed. Advocacy goals and objectives were developed.

Increased community awareness was achieved through the publication of letters in local and international newspapers. We participated in the first regional meeting to address the youth vaping epidemic in Northeast Florida, attended by more than 100 community leaders, teenagers, health care providers and other stakeholders. These activities culminated in participation with the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) at Children’s Week in Tallahassee, Florida, to advocate for SB 810, a bill that was passed and would have restricted the access to vaping products to those 21 years and younger. The bill was vetoed by the Governor on September 8th, 2020 after a widespread media campaign from Tobacco and vaping companies to block the bill.

This work resulted in increased awareness among health care providers and the community about the dangers of vaping among children. It was also part of a statewide effort to pass Florida Bill SB 810. Next steps for this project include: Involving schools and colleges to increase awareness about vaping harm, development of a peer-to-peer educational campaign led by community youth and coordinating efforts with the FCAAP to advocate for a state level policy change to solve the youth epidemic crisis. As physicians our voice is powerful and effective in addressing public health issues in our community.

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