Wood County schools see a decline in vape-use, mirroring national trends

Wood County Schools reveal vaping prevention contest winners at board of education meeting.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 12:21 AM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - In recent years, U.S. government officials labeled e-cigarette use among youth an epidemic.

For three years now, Wood County Schools have partnered with the Wood County Prevention Coalition to tackle the issue through a vaping prevention campaign.

On Tuesday night, winners of the poster and video contest were announced.

According to Wood County Schools’ Cathy Grewe, the vaping prevention campaign was a response to e-cigarettes becoming prevalent in Wood County schools about three years ago.

Wood County Prevention Coalition’s Robert Newell said, “Our hope and our mission as a coalition is that hopefully these children are going to be the change of the drug culture of the country.”

On top of classroom lessons, Wood County school students entered posters and videos warning about the dangers of vaping into a contest. Elementary schoolers, middle schoolers, and high schoolers participated.

“When they’re creating these posters, they have to learn about the dangers of vaping as they create those posters. Then we have the messaging as the posters are shown in the hallways,” Grewe said.

WTAP got a chance to talk to some of the winners, who hope their projects make a difference.

Baylee Hale, one of the poster winners, said, “My poster was called ‘brain damage’ and I just wanted to make it scary.”

Darla Rhodes, one of the video winners, said, “If we convince them to quit now, maybe they’ll…well they’ll definitely be better off.”

According to FDA and CDC data released earlier this month, there’s been a decline in e-cigarette use among high schoolers from 2022 to 2023. There wasn’t much of a change for middle schoolers.

Wood County schools have witnessed that shift.

“First time vapers are diminishing. More and more students are deciding not to vape,” Grewe said.

She said that’s according to data from anonymous school surveys sent out to Wood County students, which covers all of the district’s middle and high schools. That data also revealed that students are finding it harder to get their hands on vapes.

Still, the fight isn’t over.

“Because so many were vaping, we have quite a few students who are addicted,” Grewe said.

The winning videos and posters will be posted on Wood County Schools’ website.