MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — In an effort to educate as many kids as possible, Mayo Clinic Health System and Mankato Area Public Schools teamed up for an event to teach students about the harmful effects of vaping.
According to MissingItMN, an independent nonprofit organization that aims to improve the health of all Minnesotans by reducing tobacco use and exposure, one in five Minnesota teens vape, a number that has only been rising substantially through the years.
“It is an epidemic that’s spreading, especially with teens," said Tatum Jahnke, a senior at Mankato East High School.
She says she has seen vaping in bathrooms, changing rooms and other areas with less surveillance, leading to health care professionals asking more questions on regular checkups.
“I try to ask patients every time I see them, especially if they are young adults. We have even seen it in middle-aged people, so I do try to ask every patient I see,” explained Darla Theobald, a certified nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic Health System.
Students passed from station to station where professionals educated them about the effects of vaping, what’s in vaping and tobacco products and even allowed them to get fully immersed in the educational session with an inflatable lung available to show students how vaping affects how lung function.
Hearing all the effects is one thing, but actually seeing the physical effects can totally change a student’s mindset.
“Kids like to see things, so I actually brought a picture of a CT scan of a lung of someone who had been vaping and compared it to a normal (lung), just so they could see because I think visual aids are important,” Theobald added.
“Being able to physically see (the effects of vaping), that makes it more real for these kids and the reality sits in a little bit more opposed to just seeing it,” Jahnke said.
MCHS said this is the first time they have ever gone into a school to teach kids about the effects of any kind of smoking, but they hope to do more of it in the future.