Annual Youth Action Summit held in Bismarck

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 6:14 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - In North Dakota, youth nicotine product usage is 21.2 percent higher than adults.

Peer pressure, marketing, and access. These are among the main reasons so many kids begin smoking, and experts say, once they start, they’re hooked. But marketing may play the biggest role.

High usage within youth populations can be attributed to the way it’s marketed toward younger audiences with bright colors and flavors.

“Because these products come in so many different flavors, and they often resemble the same kind of candy gum and treats that young people like to use,” said Jordyn Schaefbauer, Bismarck Burleigh public health tobacco prevention specialist.

For the past 10 years, students from across the state have gathered in Bismarck for the Annual Youth Action Summit.

“I’m very passionate about ending nicotine usage because it’s a huge problem in our community right now,” said Aubrey Schmidt, Bismarck break-free youth board member.

Legislative leaders, among them, Representative Larry Klemin talked about the smoke-free law that passed in 2012, and what it means for North Dakota.

“Personally, I’m hoping to gain just a better idea of what our smoke-free law has to offer and how we can’t protect it for the future,” said Schmidt.

The students received toolkits to help them help their peers quit.

“Our young people really have a voice in this, and by educating students on how they can use their voice to make a positive change in their community in regards to tobacco prevention,” said Schaefbauer.

The convention hit close to home for a lot of students.

“My grandma passed away exactly two years ago today, on October 3, from tobacco-induced lung cancer. So ever since that, I’ve always kind of had a passion towards it, and bringing awareness, making sure that nobody has to go through that because of tobacco,” said Nevaeh Mock, Bismarck break free youth board member.

North Dakota has resources in its high school to help students quit, and has a program called NDQuits to help better address nicotine usage.

Around 100 middle and high school students attended the summit to bring awareness toward nicotine usage.