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Health Authority announces anti-vaping campaigns

The campaigns are a direct result of the executive order Gov. Kate Brown issued back in October following two deaths in Oregon due to vaping-related illness

The Oregon Health Authority is in the process of rolling out three campaigns to urge Oregonians to stop vaping and provide resources that help them quit.

The campaigns are a direct result of the executive order Gov. Kate Brown issued back in October following two deaths in Oregon due to vaping-related illness. Brown sought to have the OHA and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission draft temporary rules to ban the sale of flavored vaping products. The temporary bans were stayed by Oregon courts in November and are awaiting judicial review, meaning those products are still on shelves.

While awaiting that judicial review and for investigations across the country of vaping illnesses to conclude, the OHA is rolling out its media campaigns to offer help to those who wish to quit, prevent teenagers and youth from using cannabis vape products and urge Oregonians to make good decisions when it comes to their health.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health office and epidemiologist, said the investigation into the cause of the mass outbreak of lung injury and acute respiratory illness associated with vaping is still ongoing, but some progress has been made in identifying that vitamin E acetate — an adulterate, or cutting agent, frequently found in cannabis vape products — has been directly linked to some cases.

"As we continue to investigate what's causing the vaping-associated lung injuries that have sickened 20 people in Oregon and thousands across the country, we are taking these important steps to encourage people who do vape to quit and prevent others from even starting," Sidelinger said. "It's especially important to protect young people, who are particularly at risk of getting hooked on these products."

Sidelinger said the first campaign is an annual effort that received a face lift this year to include messaging on vaping and the dangers it poses. This cessation campaign will target adults and young adults, particularly low-income and people of color whom data shows are groups most affected by tobacco use, to introduce them to the Oregon Quit line. It began at the beginning of December and hopes to inspire New Year's resolutions in individuals to quit vaping.

The second campaign is named "Stay True to You and Talk to them/Habla con ellos," and is geared toward preventing youth from beginning to use cannabis products, particularly in the form of vapes. The expanded campaign educates youth, parents and educators on the health effects and consequences of using any vape product — both THC and nicotine. The campaign kicked off Dec. 13 and will run through April 2020.

Lastly, the SmokeFree Oregon prevention campaign is set to begin in Spring 2020 and will feature new advertisements and resources to help local agencies and organizations prevent tobacco and vaping among all Oregonians.

Sidelinger said these campaigns are formed with help from contract marketing firms that look at data collected by schools and local health departments to tailor their message as it best fits the demographic they're looking to help quit or prevent from vaping in the first place. The messaging includes website content, social media posts, digital and search engine advertisements, and more traditional forms of media such as billboards.

"We are still waiting for (those) investigations to be complete and will continue linking people with help to quit. We want people to take control of their health and make healthy decisions," Sidelinger said.

Those seeking help with quitting tobacco or cannabis can call Oregon's quit line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or http://www.quitnow.net/oregon, and in Spanish at 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-35692) or http://www.quitnow.net/oregonsp.