Are your kids vaping?


Minnesota Department of Health. 2019 Minnesota Student Survey: E-cigarette and Cigarette Findings. 2019.


Can You Spot The Vape?

It’s no mistake today’s most popular vaping devices are designed to look
deceptively like innocent, everyday items. We’ve emptied a typical teen’s
backpack and included a vape in each image. Can you find it?

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Click the image to find the vape.

Better Luck Next Time

Hint: many vapes resemble school supplies like computer mouses, highlighters and even USB drives.

Try Again

Good Eyes

Unlike many, you spotted the vape device.

Spot Another


What Are E-Cigs? (AKA, vapes, JUULs, vape pens, e-hookahs)

E-cigs, or vapes, are battery-powered devices that deliver harmful nicotine and flavoring in the form of an aerosol that a user inhales and exhales. They come in many shapes and sizes. While some vape devices are made to look like regular cigarettes, many could easily be mistaken for other everyday items, like USB flash drives and pens.

What are the known risks of e-cigs?2
Minnesota youth e-cigarette use is an epidemic. Youth vaping is of great concern because adolescents are especially vulnerable to the health impacts of tobacco use. Here’s why:

  • 1. E-cigs usually contain nicotine.
    Nicotine is what makes tobacco products addictive. Be aware that some e-cigarettes that claim to be nicotine-free have been found to contain nicotine.
  • 2. One Juul pod contains as much addictive nicotine as 20 cigarettes
    The nicotine in e-cigarettes can lead to addiction and harm brain development in children and young adults into their early 20s.3
  • 3. E-cigs may be full of other harmful things.
    While e-cigs typically have fewer chemicals than regular cigarettes, they may still contain heavy metals like lead, flavorings linked to lung disease, small particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, and cancer-causing chemicals.4

In the past 30 days,more than 60% of students who currently vape have chosen tempting flavors.


United States Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Tobacco Products. “Modifications to Compliance Policy for Certain Deemed Tobacco Products Guidance for Industry DRAFT GUIDANCE.” 2019.

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Roll over or swipe the images to see for yourself.

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15,500 Tobacco Flavors and Counting


Zhu, S-H, et al., “Evolution of Electronic Cigarette Brands from 2013-2014 to 2016-2017: Analysis of Brand Websites.” Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(3), published online March 12, 2018.

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The nico-teen brain

Many e-cigs contain nicotine—the addictive drug found in cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. No amount of nicotine exposure is safe for youth. Nicotine is addictive, harmful to the adolescent brain and could predispose addiction to other substances.

Swipe for details


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Keep Kids E-Cigarette Free.” August 20, 2018.

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Know The Signs


  • If their room smells artificially sweet, don’t assume it’s a scented candle.10
  • Nosebleeds are generally common among e-cigarette users.11


While Minnesota State Law prohibits selling tobacco to people under 21, kids still get it.


  • Vape products are all over social media, and many promote the sale of their products right from their accounts.
  • Website age gates are easily bypassed, and kids use a parent’s name for shipping. In one study, kids successfully bought e-cigarettes online 94% of the time.12
  • Clerks at tobacco shops, vape stores, gas stations and convenience stores might not enforce the law.
  • Many vape companies have names that wouldn’t raise a red flag on parents’ credit card statements.
  • Online orders can be delivered to Amazon lockers in supermarkets or convenience stores.
  • Orders can also be shipped to the homes when the parent(s) are at work when the mail comes.


California Department of Public Health. “Know the Signs” from 2018.

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Huffington Post. “E-Cigarettes May Not Be As Safe As You Think.” May 17, 2014.

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Williams, Rebecca S., et al. “Electronic Cigarette Sales to Minors via the Internet.” JAMA Pediatrics, American Medical Association, 2 Mar. 2015.

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It’s part of why the US Surgeon General declared
vaping a youth epidemic and MN teen tobacco use
is up for the first time in 17 years.


Minnesota Department of Health. "New survey shows Minnesota youth tobacco use rising for the first time in 17 years." February 15, 2018.

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So, now what?

There’s a lot we can do to protect teens from the harms of tobacco in Minnesota, starting with:

Clearing the Market of Flavored Tobacco Products

Clearing the market of all flavored tobacco products will create a healthier future for our kids and directly improve the health of Black communities and other groups targeted by Big Tobacco.

This bold public health policy would help Minnesota reverse the youth tobacco epidemic, address systemic racism and reduce health care costs.

Investing in tobacco prevention

Investing in sustainable prevention programs will combat the youth tobacco epidemic and reduce the harm tobacco causes to all Minnesota families and businesses.

Minnesota only invests only a fraction of the CDC-recommended level of tobacco prevention spending. To make matters worse, the state will experience a huge loss in tobacco prevention resources in 2021. ClearWay Minnesota, which was funded by Minnesota’s tobacco settlement to address tobacco’s harms, will sunset in 2021, leaving a gap in prevention resources.

To stay up to date on the latest policies that are working to protect Minnesota’s youth from the harms of smoking, visit

And to get the latest details on these and other efforts, sign up for newsletters from ClearWay Minnesota.

Sign Up


Institute of Medicine. “Public Health Implications of Raising the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco Products.” Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 2015

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King BA, Jama AO, Marynak KL, Promoff GR. Attitudes Toward Raising the Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Among U.S. Adults. Am J Prev Med. 2015.

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Big Tobacco Targets Vulnerable Communities

“We don’t smoke that sh*t. We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and stupid.” —An Executive at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The tobacco industry uses predatory and relentless tactics to attract new customers and keep people addicted. Big Tobacco continues to use powerful marketing tactics to segment people based on their race, gender and sexual orientation.

In particular, the tobacco industry has used menthol flavors and marketing to racially segment and target certain customers, especially Black Americans, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) communities, and youth.

Gardiner PS. The African Americanization of menthol cigarette use in the United States. Nicotine Tob Res. 2004;6 Suppl 1:S55-65.
Stevens P, Carlson LM, Hinman JM. An analysis of tobacco industry marketing to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations: strategies for mainstream tobacco control and prevention. Health Promot Pract. 2004;5(3 Suppl):129S-134S.

In the Black community

For decades, tobacco companies have targeted Black communities with menthol tobacco products and marketing.

As a result of that targeting, today 85% of Black smokers use menthols, vs. 29% of white smokers. Institutional racism plays a part in these ongoing disparities: despite overwhelming evidence of this targeting, the FDA excluded menthol products from the 2009 federal law that took other flavored cigarettes off the market.

Villanti et al. Changes in the prevalence and correlates of menthol cigarette use in the USA, 2004–2014. Tobacco Control. 2016. Link.

In the American Indian community

Smoking is an epidemic-level health problem in Minnesota’s tribal communities. Today, the cigarette smoking rate for American Indians is 59%—four times that of the general population (14%).

An estimated 42% of urban American Indian smokers use menthol.

Unfortunately, these disparities start young. The 2019 Minnesota Student Survey found 38% of American Indian students were current tobacco users.

For generations, the commercial tobacco industry has corrupted Native tobacco practices and has exploited Native images and beliefs in advertisements.

2013 Tribal Tobacco Use Survey, 2018 Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey
Forster J, Poupart J, Rhodes K, et al. Cigarette Smoking Among Urban American Indian Adults — Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, Minnesota, 2011.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;2016(65):534–537.)
Minnesota Department of Health. 2019 Minnesota Student Survey: E-cigarette and Cigarette Findings. October 9, 2019
D’Silva J, O’Gara E, Villaluz NT Tobacco industry misappropriation of American Indian culture and traditional tobacco. Tobacco Control 2018;27:e57-e64.

In the LGBTQ community

The tobacco industry has shamefully targeted the LGBTQ community, including with the infamous “Project SCUM” marketing program.

Nationally, over 36% of LGBTQ smokers smoke menthol cigarettes. Nearly half (45%) of LGBTQ female smokers smoke menthols, compared to 34% of straight female smokers.

Among Minnesota 11th-graders, 33% of LGBPQ* students said they currently use tobacco products. (*students identifying as lesbian, gay, pansexual, queer or questioning)

RJ Reynolds. Project SCUM. December 12, 1995.
Fallin A, Goodin AJ, King BA. Menthol Cigarette Smoking among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Adults. Am J Prev Med. 2014.
Johnson SE, Holder-Hayes E, Tessman GK, King BA, Alexander T, Zhao X. Tobacco Product Use Among Sexual Minority Adults: Findings From the 2012-2013 National Adult Tobacco Survey. Am J Prev Med. 2016;50(4):e91-e100.
Minnesota Department of Health. 2019 Minnesota Student Survey: E-cigarette and Cigarette Findings. October 9, 2019

Tobacco Industry Targeting of Other Communities

Tobacco industry documents reveal that Big Tobacco has engaged in decades-long segmentation and targeting of Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander immigrants in the U.S.

Half of Hispanic smokers smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to 29% of white smokers.

African American and Hispanic young adults are more likely to smoke flavored cigars than their white counterparts, thanks to Big Tobacco’s marketing.

Acevedo-Garcia D, Barbeau E, Bishop JA, Pan J, Emmons KM. Undoing an epidemiological paradox: the tobacco industry's targeting of US Immigrants. Am J Public Health. 2004;94(12):2188-2193. doi:10.2105/ajph.94.12.2188
Delnevo, CD, et al., “Banning Menthol Cigarettes: A Social Justice Issue Long Overdue,” Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 22(10): 1673-1675, 2020.
Hinds JT, Li X, Loukas A, Pasch KE, Perry CL. Flavored Cigars Appeal to Younger, Female, and Racial/Ethnic Minority College Students. Nicotine Tob Res. 2018;20(3):347-354.

In the end, it comes down to this: Removing menthol and all other flavored products from the marketplace would directly improve the health of youth, Black, LGBTQ, American Indian and other communities specifically targeted by Big Tobacco.

88% of Minnesota students report seeing ads for e-cigarettes in the past month.

Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. From secret pop-up concerts in convenience stores to free music downloads, social media posts and more, teens are not only being targeted, but they’re also being recruited to smoke. In fact, Big Tobacco spends over $100 million a year on marketing in Minnesota—and that doesn’t even include what is spent on e-cigarette advertisements.15

Click or swipe the images to see for yourself.


Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. “The Toll of Tobacco in Minnesota.” November 2016.

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Why is big tobacco so obsessed with hooking teens?

Here’s why: if teens never start smoking, they probably never will. Nearly all smokers (95% to be exact) start by the time they’re 21.

Big Tobacco knows this, and uses the same tactics they used for smoking to hook kids on vaping. In fact, internal documents revealed e-cigarette giant JUUL targeted kids as young as eight years old. JUUL used a sophisticated marketing program that included summer camp, school programs and hundreds of young social media influencers (Source: JUUL’s Role in the Youth Nicotine Epidemic).

Here’s an idea:
Let’s prevent kids from starting

Get Details
Commercial tobacco use and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the need for strong public health policies to improve lung health and reduce commercial tobacco addiction.

  • Because COVID-19 is a deadly respiratory disease, it makes it even more urgent for Minnesota take additional steps to prevent commercial tobacco use and help smokers quit.
  • Communities targeted by the tobacco industry, including Black and Indigenous Minnesotans, are some of the hardest hit by COVID-19. (View Minnesota’s COVID-19 dashboard)
  • Current or former smokers are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. (See what the CDC has to say about it)
  • All Minnesota residents can access free quitting help through 1-800-QUIT-NOW and

Each year, smoking-related illnesses cost you and every Minnesotan $593.(Even if you don’t smoke.)


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “Smoking Claims More Than 6,000 Lives, Costs Minnesota Over $3 Billion Annually.” January 2017.

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How much have smoking-related illnesses cost your household?

Including you, how many people do you live with?
(Yes, count the kids too.)


How many years into the future would you like to calculate your costs?

Calculate your cost

*Based on current rate of $593 per person.


Your Total



Get free help to quit nicotine from Quit Partner

Quit Partner provides free help for Minnesota residents to quit nicotine, including smoking, vaping and chewing. Their family of programs includes free medications, quit coaching and more.
Click below or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) to get started.

Visit Quit Partner

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