Nine teens involved in Bright Futures for Youth programs have written and recorded an original song and music video with a message about addiction and the dangers of cigarettes and vaping.
The song, Love and Dreams, is part of the Tobacco Use Prevention campaign by the Nevada County Public Health Department. Bright Futures for Youth partners with Nevada County to cover the costs for the project.
The teens – Eva Corbin, Aidan Haines, Noah Henson, Evan Jaco-Headley, Shane Malakian, Sam Ove, Elana Pedersen, Emerson Pondexter and Jamie Thomas Rose – recently recorded the song and followed with a video at the Litton Building in Grass Valley, home of Bright Futures for Youth. The almost five-minute video is available on YouTube.
The goal of the singer-songwriters is to educate youth in Nevada County – and everywhere else – about the health risks of smoking cigarettes and vaping, and the importance of breaking the “vicious cycle that addiction powers pain, and pain powers addiction.”
The music video also provides a hands-on experience for the students, Corbin said.
“I wanted to do the video to up my game in my music skills,” Corbin said. “Doing that video, brought up my confidence.”
And hopefully the song and video build the confidence of others to reject peer pressure to smoke or vape.
More than one of every five (22%) 11th-grade students in Nevada County had smoked an e-cigarette during the past 30 days, according to the 2017-19 California Healthy Kids Survey. The figure is almost five times the percentage of seventh-graders that vaped during the same period.
However, e-cigarette use has declined in the county compared to two years ago, when 27% of 11th-graders vaped during the 30-day period for the annual survey.
California state and county health officials along with elected leaders have been aggressively taking aim to combat e-cigarette use, especially those with flavors aimed at youth, during the past few years.
Songs and videos like Love and Dreams created by teens for teens are an important tool. Peer-to-peer efforts often have a greater effect on youth, said NEO co-founder and program director Halli Ellis-Edwards. NEO is a program of Bright Futures for Youth.
“The NEO singer-songwriters spent countless hours writing Love and Dreams and recording the video,” said Ellis-Edwards. “It’s the kind of creativity that connects with youth, educating them about the dangers of cigarettes and vaping – and how pain and addiction go hand in hand.”
Traditional cigarettes had a smaller percentage of youth smokers compared to vaping in Nevada County. About 2% of seventh-grade students smoked during the past 30 days compared to 8% for high school juniors in Nevada County. Both figures are up a percentage point compared to two years ago.
Despite the federal government’s warning about the health risks of cigarette smoking almost 60 years ago, one of every 14 Americans still smokes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The hard-to-beat addiction has a long-lasting and often life-changing effect on smokers – and often the children in their lives. Almost two of every five (38%) children between the ages of 3 to 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke every day. That exposure coupled with those who start smoking will cause 5.6 million children to die prematurely from tobacco use in the U.S., according to Take Down Tobacco.
Bright Futures for Youth’s program has a contract with Nevada County Public Health Department to educate youth about the harmful effect of tobacco on individuals and the environment. Last year, three teens involved in NEO wrote a song, Sunset Tears, and made a music video for the Tobacco Use Prevention campaign.
The Public Health Department works to create local policies that protect individuals from second-hand smoke, reduce youth access to tobacco and minimize tobacco advertising. It also engages youth in local schools and oversees tobacco prevention efforts.