April 17, 2023
Student winners announced for 2023 Minnesota Escape the Vape Video Challenge
The Escape the Vape Video Challenge, now in its third year, had its highest participation rate yet with students from more than 50 Minnesota schools creating 30-second videos to educate their peers on the dangers of vaping.
Though illegal, underage youth vaping continues to be a problem in Minnesota with 14% of 11th graders and 6% of 8th graders reporting using an e-cigarette during the last 30 days, according to the 2022 Minnesota Student Survey.
No amount of nicotine is safe for youth as it is highly addictive and can be toxic. Because the adolescent brain is still developing until about age 25, youth nicotine exposure can increase the risk of addiction to commercial tobacco products and other substances in the future.
“We’re glad to see Minnesota students making these videos to help their peers,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham. “The harm caused by e-cigarettes and vapes is often underestimated. Hearing about those harms from other students can help raise awareness and provide support for healthy choices.”
Minnesota students acted through the contest, submitting 347 entries. Middle and high school students served as judges in two rounds of judging and helped select the 10 finalists. Public voting opened on March 24 and closed April 6, 2023. Nearly 2,400 votes were cast to choose the winners for each division. Each group of 1at place winners will receive a $500 cash prize. Their schools will also each receive $500. This year’s winners include:
High School Division
- 1st place: It's Time to Rap Up Vaping by Cameron Bluhm, William Ryan, and Ryan Gostonczik, 11th and 12th grades, Plainview Elgin Millville High School.
- 2nd place: It's Not Worth It by Blake Stephens, 11th grade, Redwood Valley High School.
- 3rd place: Breaking News: The Dangers of Youth Vaping by Tavhidakhon Bakhtiyorzoda, 12th grade, Minnetonka High School.
Middle School Division
- 1st place: Inhaling the Stress by Camryn Anderson and Ellen Germundson, 8th grade, Forestview Middle School.
- 2nd place: The Process of Making a Vape by Abbie Buchanan, 8th grade, Hastings Middle School.
- 3rd place: Vaping is the Villain by Ryan Larson, Anabelle Holcomb-Smith, and Henry Olsen, 8th grade, Forestview Middle School.
White Bear Lake Central Middle School, with 83 students entering, wins a $1000 cash prize for being the school with the highest percentage of participating students.
Here’s what some of the winners had to say about the contest:
Cameron Bluhm, High School Division winner from Plainview Elgin Millville High School gave the following advice to those struggling with vaping, “Think about what opportunities could vaping ruin or take away, also talk to someone, sometimes all you need is someone to talk to.”
"The goal of our video was to make people laugh and learn about the danger of vaping, especially vaping in middle school. We both think the best way to curb vaping with young people is to keep promoting the dangers of vaping, what is in them, and how harmful it is,” said Camryn Anderson and Ellen Germundsun, Middle School Division winners from Forestview Middle School.
“Remember that you’re not alone. Millions of other people in the world are fighting the same battle as you, but there are plenty of resources out there to help aid you in your fight to quit,” said Ryan Gostonczik, High School Division winner from Plainview Elgin Millville High School.
To help young people quit, MDH offers My Life, My Quit™, which supports Minnesota teens ages 13-17 in quitting commercial tobacco and nicotine, including vaping. The program is free and confidential. Teens can text to chat with a coach, engage in coaching calls and online chat, and receive youth-specific materials. Teens should text “Start” to 36072 or visit My Life, My Quit.
“This initiative gives youth an opportunity to express themselves by creating compelling anti-vape messages in response to commercial tobacco targeting them,” said Carlos Gallego, the lead of MDH’s Youth E-Cigarette Prevention and Cessation Initiative facilitated by Minneapolis-based ACET, Inc. “The response for 2023 was astounding and we're so pleased to be part of this growing contest. These videos will be viewed by students throughout Minnesota and will create a powerful message to Minnesota's youth as to why they should not use e-cigarettes or vaping products.”
Escape the Vape is made possible by the Minnesota Department of Health in partnership with Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota; Twin Cities Orthopedics; Oxboro Family Chiropractic; Tobacco-Free Kids; and Allina Health’s Health Powered Kids, Change to Chill and Hello4Health.
Watch the winning videos at Escape the Vape. You can also follow, like, and tag the contest on Instagram @jointheescape.
Media can contact MDH to connect with the winners of the contest.