MINOT, N.D. – “That number was alarming to us on a local level on a state level,” Director of Health Promotions at First District Health Unit Holly Brekhus said.

33, that’s the percentage of students in North Dakota grades 8 through 12, who reported to be using e-cigarette or vaping products in a 2019 survey.

This led to the establishment of a task force in the greater Minot area.

“Schools, law enforcement, all kinds of people on board with that and so we really dug into try to get those numbers to come down we did teacher education we did parent education we did student education,” Brekhus said.

One member of the vaping task force is Master Officer Caisee Sandusky of the Minot Police Department, who is also a school resource officer at Magic City Campus.

Part of her job is having conversations with students and classes about topics like vaping.

“Just getting that information to them makes them think about it a little bit more and I think in turn curbs some of those behaviors,” Sandusky said.

Sandusky says in recent years, violations dealing with vaping were almost a daily occurrence, but it seems to be decreasing.

“We’ve had a significant decrease in the amount of tobacco violations that we’ve seen especially in the older ages,” Sandusky said.

Both Brekhus and Sandusky say COVID-19 has impacted the face-to-face education courses, but the pandemic, and legal changes, may be driving numbers down.

“Hopefully it’s going down because people are understanding it’s bad to get COVID but it’s even worse if you’re a vaper and get COVID,” Brekhus said.

“With the changes in the purchasing ya know set forth as far as the age change and stuff like that it’s harder for kids to get it and its less appealing not having all the flavors,” Sandusky said.

Brekhus hope these reflect in the numbers that will be released in the 2021 survey this spring.