It’s hard to avoid the numerous headlines about the dangers of vaping and even the deaths associated with this addiction. As of October 29, 37 deaths have been confirmed in 24 states, which includes Missouri. And it keeps increasing. According to 2018 numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3.6 million young people in middle school and high school use a vape device.

In October, The Kansas City Star released an article warning kids about vaping. Vicky Ward, manager of prevention and wellness services here at Tri-County Mental Health Services was interviewed and explained that parents may be receiving inaccurate information regarding vaping and that she still hears parents say, “I’d much rather have my kids vape flavored water than do drugs.”

In addition, Vicky warns schools that they cannot “punish people into sobriety” by suspending students and sending them home if they are caught vaping at school. She believes this can cause stress and possibly lead to vaping on their couch as a coping mechanism during their suspension.

So, what are good solutions to this rampant epidemic?

Parent Up, has a “Share the Truth with our Youth” campaign based in Clay, Platte and Ray counties and is working to raise awareness about vaping among parents while also providing ways to communicate with their child about it. They provide statistics, risks, warning signs and a list of helpful resources.

There is also Youth with a Vision, which is a student-led organization made up of 8th-12th graders from the 14 different school districts in Ray, Platte, & Clay counties. They have been working on vaping advocacy issues, education and social marketing. They recently recorded two vaping PSAs that aired on Spotify and area radio stations.




As leaders in prevention and industry experts on this issue of vaping, Tri-County has set up prevention services to try to help combat this highly addictive substance. Services that are specific to vaping education and prevention include:

  • School staff training to help educate teachers and health care providers with the latest information about the dangers and health risks associated with vaping
  • Classroom presentations directed at the students using language young people respond to with recent information
  • Collaboration with schools as they deal with modifying drug policies related to vaping/nicotine products
  • Providing schools with vaping cessation resources and research
  • Assisting with peer-to-peer vaping social marketing campaigns

For more information or to inquire about these prevention services, please contact Tri-County Mental Health Services by emailing Vicky Ward at or calling 816-468-0400.