If you're a parent in Minnesota, you're always going above and beyond to make sure your kids are staying safe, acting responsibly, and making good choices. It can be tricky to do in these times with social media and related challenges that seem to trend throughout the year.

A new trend is out there now in Minnesota encouraging teens to call "Norm". Hearing that your people are telling your kid to call some dude named "Norm" likely raises a red flag. However, it turns out that calling this mysterious man is a good thing.

The Minnesota Department of Health recently launched the "Hey Norm" campaign in an effort to engage teens about the issue of vaping and reduce youth e-cigarette use. The campaign involves a website, Room to Breathe, with relevant data and resources about the harms of nicotine and vaping, ways to get involved, and access to quit support tailored for teens.

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The anti-vaping campaign is featured in mobile billboards, bulletins, posters, transit system signage, online video, social content, and streaming audio.

They've also created a fun video that utilizes a “low-budget infomercial” approach, encouraging teens to call or text Norm at 1-833-HEY-NORM to get advice about how to start “the vape talk” with their peers.

The Minnesota Department of Health hopes the "Hey Norm" campaign combats the tobacco industry’s use of marketing tactics like celebrity endorsements and the use of flavors that appeal to youth.

According to the 2022 Minnesota Student Survey, about 14% of Minnesota’s 11th-grade students and more than 2% of middle school students use e-cigarettes. The Department of Health says this e-cigarette use exposes these students to the harmful effects of commercial tobacco and the potential for a life-long nicotine habit.

“We know that nicotine found in e-cigarettes is highly addictive and can lead to significant physical and mental health impacts,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham. “Teens know some of the harmful side effects, but they may not actively seek out information, and they may not feel comfortable talking about nicotine use with friends or trusted adults. We hope this campaign prompts them to learn more and share that knowledge with their friends.”

The Department of Health adds that e-cigarette aerosol contains harmful chemicals including ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavorings (which the Tobacco Industry uses to market heavily to teens) such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds; cancer-causing chemicals; and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.

So, it appears that if your teen is calling Norm, they're trying to make healthy choices. It's ultimately a good thing.

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