Local Youth Lead Community Efforts to Curb Teen Vape Use


Raleigh, NC – Youth leaders from the Poe Center’s Youth Empowerment team led a community forum Thursday to address the vaping epidemic in Wake County. Joined by partners, officials, and professionals, youth leaders spoke about their work to curb tobacco and vape access in schools and communities. Youth presented their research and projects, and focused on initiatives such as Escape the Vape Week, a week-long observance to curb vape use in schools.

“To get involved as a student, seek out trusted community leaders: educators at the Poe Center, your principal, or a teacher you trust, and discuss ideas on getting started. It’s important to have youth spreading awareness. Start a club, spread awareness, and get involved,” said Arjun Kuncha, local high school leader and initiator of Escape the Vape Week in Wake County.

Forum attendees also heard an update on current tobacco and vape trends and statistics from Ray Riordan, Director of Local Policy and Programs within the NC Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch, Division of Public Health, NC Department of Health and Human Services.

Panel discussions highlighted strategies and policies that can reduce youth tobacco use and empower communities in the solution, as well as ways youth can impact their peers, schools, and communities.

Panel member Mayor Jacques Gilbert, Town of Apex, spoke about the positive effects of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) amendment to regulate tobacco retail outlet density via zoning adopted by Apex: “The health of the Apex community is very important. It’s not just about putting a policy in place, you must also have everyone engaged. We work with the police department and the entire community. And it’s working - you don’t see people smoking on public grounds. It’s made a tremendous impact. It takes collaboration.”

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