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Newly Launched Anti-Vaping Campaign Reminds Youth to Keep Your Focus, Not Your Fix

(ITHACA, NY, April 18, 2024) – Over the past 5 weeks, young people in Tompkins County saw hundreds of posters featuring blurred images of everyday life changed overnight to reveal focused images of youth enjoying sports, reading, classroom activities, friends, and family – activities that can be negatively impacted by vaping and nicotine use. The poster switch-out is part of the “Keep your focus, not your fix” campaign launched earlier this year to discourage vaping and share resources for those looking to quit.

According to data from the 2023 Tompkins County Community Level Youth Development Evaluation (CLYDE) survey, use of e-cigarettes remains prevalent among Tompkins County youth. In fact, nicotine-based vapes are shown to be one of the most used substances among middle and high school students county-wide (2% of students in grades 7-8 and 9% of students in grades 9-12 respectively). E-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical that is particularly harmful to adolescent brain development. Harmful effects to the brain include difficulties learning and paying attention, lowered impulse control and memory lapses. Nicotine also negatively affects adolescent mental health, causing increased stress levels, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Tompkins County Whole Health’s Medical Director Dr. William Klepack stated, “The harmful effects of nicotine on adolescent development cannot be overstated. Use of nicotine from an early age greatly increases risks of cancer and other life-threatening illnesses in adulthood as well. Parents, caregivers, teachers and other youth leaders should educate themselves on the resources available to help support youth with nicotine addiction and vaping cessation.”

The anti-vaping campaign was created by Tompkins County Whole Health in partnership with Tobacco Free Zone and the Community Coalition for Healthy Youth with the goal of reducing e-cigarette use among county youth. The concept was inspired by local youth, who offered creative guidance throughout the process.

Our message is for youth to “keep their focus, not their fix”, urging them to “save their breath” for the activities they enjoy.  Each poster depicts a different activity with this message, as well as a QR code that links students to the social media of Reality Check of Tompkins, Cortland and Chenango, a youth-based group that works to redefine social norms regarding tobacco use. The QR code also connects students to helpful community resources. Posters have been displayed in schools throughout the Ithaca and Dryden districts, and in community settings throughout the county to ensure this message reaches county youth in and out of the classroom.

Whole Health Commissioner Frank Kruppa stated, “As our Tobacco Free Tompkins slogan has long stated, “We cannot afford another generation of tobacco addiction”. TCWH applauds the efforts of this collaboration between TCWH, Reality Check, and the Coalition for Healthy Youth to implement this awareness campaign, developed by and for local youth.”

Reality Check of Tompkins, Cortland and Chenango is a component of the Tobacco Free Zone program. The Tobacco Free Zone works to foster environments supportive of policies that reinforce the tobacco free norm in our communities. Strong and effective laws can help protect youth from nicotine addiction by reducing access and exposure to tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. To learn more about the program and the “Keep your focus, not your fix” campaign, visit    

Tompkins County Whole Health envisions a future where every person in Tompkins County can achieve wellness. Find us online at, and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TCWholeHealth. Get Whole Health updates or other county announcements via email or text, sign up here.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord,