Anti-vaping warriors at St. Peter High School took turns listing off dozens of myths about e-cigarettes.
“They told us that pods used to vape do not contain nicotine,” one warrior said.
“They told us the chemicals found in vapes are the same chemicals found in food, so they are safe,” said another.
In unison in front of hundreds of their peers Thursday, the presenters responded to each myth with four words: “They lied. We know.”
Then the St. Peter High School students learned the truth to counter each myth, including that 99% of cigarettes contain nicotine and vape vapor can contain formaldehyde.
The student-led assembly Thursday morning kicked off the “They Lied. We Know.” campaign brought to St. Peter High School by Cambria, a countertop and building material manufacturing company.
Over the next few weeks, Cambria staff will help the student warriors continue to educate their peers about the dangers of vaping.
“We’re trying to set the example that it’s not OK. That there’s going to be consequences. That it isn’t the cool thing to do,”said St. Peter senior Izzy Lind.
The goal is to counter the misnomer that vaping is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes and to curb a spike in vaping rates.
On the Minnesota Student Survey last spring, 9% of St. Peter ninth graders and 19% of 11th graders said they had vaped at least once in the prior month. That’s a bit lower than the statewide average of 16% in ninth grade and 26% in 11th grade.
Cambria Cares, the philanthropic arm of the manufacturer of stone countertops and other surfaces, provides all the educational materials. Cambria staff come to schools to assist, but a group of students are appointed to lead the campaign.
“Kids don’t want to hear from Cambria staff. They want to hear from each other,” said Angela Norton, senior director of marketing for Cambria Cares.
The more than 40 members of the St. Peter chapter of the Project for Teens peer-to-peer education group are spreading the anti-vaping message at St. Peter High School.
“What were doing right now — the peer-to-peer education — it’s a great start,” junior Vanessa Krueger said.
“These younger kids look up to us and we want to make an impact on their lives,” senior Breanna Hagen said.
During lunch periods and athletics events over the next few weeks, the student volunteers will staff a temporary lounge area where student visitors who participate in educational activities and sign an anti-vaping pledge can win prizes.
“As long as we stop one person from vaping, it’s worth it,” junior Obet Alcantara Alvarez said.
St. Peter is the second beneficiary of Cambria’s new campaign. Norton called St. Peter High School a “natural fit” as a school partner, given its proximity to the manufacturing company’s Le Sueur headquarters.
“We really like to support our local community,” she said.
Several Project for Teens members said they were grateful to be chosen.
“We’re super lucky. Cambria is doing an awesome job,” Lind said.
Norton said the company hasn’t determined where it will take the “They Lied. We Know.” campaign next.