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The dangers of vaping is one of the topics at a Ventura County conference for teens

teen vape.jpg
Caroline Feraday
A conference on Tuesday in Ventura County highlights the dangers of vaping and tobacco products

With flavors designed to entice young people, teens are being encouraged to “kick ash”.

High schoolers from across Ventura County are writing rap lyrics. But this isn’t any music class. Their lyrics highlight the dangers of vaping and tobacco products and this is part of a Youth Tobacco-Free Advocacy Conference at Ventura County Office of Education, called Teens Kick Ash.

This is one of a number of workshops at the conference, and is run by David Landix – artist and teacher with an education company called Music Notes.

"Music is a powerful tool," said Landix. "Helping student to not only learn information but also to use their voices and spread a powerful message through music."

The conference aims to develop the next generation of anti-vaping and anti-tobacco advocates says Jason Claros, one of the organizers.

"This day is dedicated to informing students of the dangers of nicotine and vaping," he explained.

Claros says it's important to educate young people on the dangers as those who get addicted to the products at a young age, are likely to continue using as adults.

He points out that it affects brain development. "We want students to know that while their brain is growing, they can make healthy choices throughout," said Claros.

The event has been running for 25 years – although it’s their first one back since the pandemic.

Anti-substance abuse campaigns have come a long way since the Just Say No campaigns of the 80s, but the message is essentially the same – and using music is one way to make sure the message sticks for these high schoolers.

Annie Gonzalez, 15, is one of the students who shared her rap lyrics. She told KCLU that the anti-smoking and anti-vaping message will definitely stick with her beyond the conference.

"It's going to remind me to warn people that I love to stop," she said.

Meanwhile, Holly Howerton, 15, said she was "literally traumatized" learning that a vape can explode in your mouth.

Arsham Sobbi, 17, said that he focused on the damage that smoking and vaping can do to your body.

While, Anthony Montenegro, 17, said the message "had an impact" because he lost his uncle at the age of 18 to "alcohol and vaping."

"It's very serious to me and I take it very serious," he said.

And these high-schoolers agree that the conference has focused their attention on their power to effect positive change not only in their own behavior, but within their communities.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.