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Schools & Child Care

Supporting Youth To Live Smoke and Vape Free

While youth smoking rates continue to be at-all-time low, vaping devices (like e-cigarettes) are now addicting youth to nicotine instead of cigarettes.

Between 2017-2019, vaping rates doubled among Ontario students in grades 7-12. Rates showed a slight decline during the early waves of COVID-19, possibly because young people were not out in public places as often due to public health measures. As a result, youth likely had less access to/sharing of the devices with friends and peers and fewer social contacts that can attract youth to vape. Unfortunately, there’s evidence that vaping rates in youth are creeping back up to pre-pandemic rates.

In speaking with local youth, parents and teachers, we are hearing that vaping continues to be a major issue among Simcoe Muskoka youth. This is concerning as many people don’t realize that e-cigarettes have health risks and using them also increases the chances that youth will begin smoking cigarettes.

Information about vaping products, the laws and the impact of vaping on health have been changing rapidly, so we developed resources to help educators, as well as parents/caregivers and students learn about vaping and the health effects the devices can cause.

Schools provide an ideal setting to educate young people about e-cigarettes and vaping to help prevent them from starting to vape and support youth looking to quit. In response to the need for teaching tools to help address youth vaping, we worked with provincial health unit partners to create Not An Experiment. More information about this initiative, the resources available and the support the health unit’s smoke-free program can provide can be found in the sections below.

Not An Experiment includes a website ( that is full of interactive elements providing up to date information about:

The website also features two escape room-style activities that teach students about vaping in a fun way:

Classroom Escape Room Activity

This interactive game is in a printable format which can be facilitated by teachers and has been used extensively in schools to educate students in grades 7-12 about the risks of vaping, nicotine addiction, and industry marketing tactics. It includes:

Computer Game

The second is a computer game (English only) which allows students to play online. The game ends by asking the player a series of questions that can be used to assess their level of knowledge related to the game’s key learnings.

The website also provides other resources that educators can use to teach students about vaping and give them tools to spread the word about these devices to their peers. See the next section for more information and links. is designed to empower and engage youth and further support education partners in teaching students in grades 7-12 about vaping. Downloadable resources include:

  • Three lesson plans (for grades 7 and 8) with connections to the Ontario Health and Physical Education – Healthy Living curriculum, developed by the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board in partnership with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. The escape room-style activity is incorporated into this lesson plan series.
  • Powerpoint slide deck that summarizes all of the information available on Educators can use this information to increase their own knowledge and/or supplement their lesson plans.
  • A Parent/Caregiver resource highlights vaping information and tips for how to talk with kids about vaping. This is a great one to share with parents and caregivers!
  • Five posters, Ontario law post cards, and school announcements to use in school-wide awareness raising events.
  • Pledge forms that staff and students can sign to show their commitment to staying smoke & vape free.
  • Ontario law postcards explaining the fines for using e-cigarettes on school property and for sharing the devices
  • Three video series

In response to requests from education partners for resources to help prevent vaping in school washrooms (and on school property), the following items are now available:

These resources are intended to be used together and in combination with the Ontario law postcards.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s tobacco enforcement officers also continue to enforce the laws related to vaping and schools. For more information, or to submit a school witness report, visit the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 section of our website.

With youth vaping on the rise, more and more students are getting addicted to nicotine. Quitting vaping is one of the best things students will ever do for themselves and there is help to quit!

  • Plan Your Quit: students can use this tool to plan their quit.
  • Quash (available as an app on the App Store and on Google Play): this app can help students quit on their own.
  • Stop Vaping Challenge (available as an app on the App Store and on Google Play): using this app will help students quit with support from friends.
  • Youth vaping cessation poster and quit tear off with QR codes for quick access these cessation apps for youth are available from SMDHU.

Call Health Connection if you would like support to address vaping or smoking in your school community, including any questions about implementing Not An Experiment.

Call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

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