Hawai‘i County youth have the highest rate of e-cigarette use in the state; a rate that is multiple times higher than the national rate. To help reverse this trend, Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i Island (TFHI) hosted 34 community members on Wednesday, February 20, 2018, at the West Hawai‘i Community Health Center for another installment of InSpire to Live and Breathe.

The event examined the growing vaping epidemic among Hawai‘i County youth and provided an open forum for the community to discuss the issue with the panel of experts. It was well attended by members of the Hawai‘i County Police Department, Hawai‘i County Fire Personnel, middle and high school administrators, tobacco cessation counselors, medical providers as well a wide variety of community members, many of whom are actively involved in tobacco prevention and cessation.

Introductory information about e-cigarettes and their health impacts were presented by Forrest Batz, PharmD and HIPHI board member. Kevin Ramirez, Youth Education and Prevention Program Coordinator, conducted a counter-marketing tools presentation aimed at reducing youth use and discussed HIPHI’s counter-marketing campaign, #808NoVape.

Next, a six-panel discussion, moderated by Cyd Hoffeld of Bays Clinic, took place. Two youth council members, Julia Lim and Samantha Diaz, brought a wealth of information from a student’s point of view, while Konawaena High School Principal Shawn Suzuki and Vice Principal Diane Spencer presented what they are seeing and dealing with as school administrators. The panel also included public health nurse Cassie Baybayan and attorney Dale Ross from the Hawai`i County Persecutor’s Office.

The event was well received and several participants were excited to work on the issue further throughout the county. For information on how to get involved with the coalition and current youth prevention efforts, contact Sally Ancheta, Hawai‘i County Community Coordinator, at sally@hiphi.org and Jen Valera, Hawai‘i County Coalitions Assistant, at jen@hiphi.org.