CHICAGO: If you thought it was hard to get your child to look up from their phone to talk about their day at school, imagine how hard it is to talk with them about vaping.
That’s the basis for a public service announcement from the Ad Council and the American Lung Association aimed at encouraging parents to discuss the dangers of vaping with their children.
The #DoTheVapeTalk campaign comes amidst reports that the number of high-school students who vape has declined after concerns about an epidemic of teenagers becoming addicted to nicotine. About 11% of high-school students, or 1.7 million, and 2.8% of middle schoolers, or 320,000, use e-cigarettes, according to 2021 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“With the new school year beginning, knowing that kids are going to be faced with additional stress and peer pressure — and that those are main motivators for a lot of kids to begin vaping — even though it may seem to parents like it's too early…the reality is that kids are starting to vape early,” said Cece Wedel, VP and group campaign director at Ad Council.
The two organizations launched the youth vaping-prevention campaign to reach parents in 2020.
Hill Holiday once again created the campaign pro bono for the nonprofit. The new iteration plays on viral dance videos to provide parents with information about how to discuss vaping. It features influencer Russell Horning, who gained a following and became known as “The Backpack Kid” because of videos in which he danced with a backpack and did his signature dance move, The Floss.
“We really needed something that could kind of break through the clutter, and so knowing viral dance trends are a big thing — they are having their moment right now — we are really just using that as the catalyst and an entry point to have these difficult discussions,” said Wedel.
The 60-second video opens with a father on the couch explaining that thousands of kids start to vape each day.
“I can’t let this happen to my kid. Of course, it’s awkward to talk to your kids about the dangers of vaping,” he said.
We then see him trying to meet his kid on her level.
“Hey bestie! How sketch is—” he says, before the door is slammed in his face.
He decides that to discuss the dangers of vaping, you have to get the topic trending. The father, his daughter and the Backpack Kid record a video in which they dance as banners flash with information about the dangers of vaping.
Then the father says, “Honey, can we talk?”
She agrees. The ad concludes with a link to the campaign website, TalkAboutVaping.org, for tips about having such a conversation.
“Parents play such a crucial and critical role, and they have the power to intervene and start these conversations early,” said Wedel. “The website is really a great resource.”