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Cincinnati High School Filmmakers Encourage Youth To Stop Vaping In New PSA

Kiki Featherson is an editor on the Fourthwall Studio's student team.
Ambriehl Crutchfield
Kiki Featherson is an editor on the Fourthwall Studio's student team.

A group of Cincinnati area high school students are producing a PSA to discourage middle schoolers from vaping.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, in 2018 more than 3.6 million U.S. middle and high school students said they used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. The Ohio Department of Health says e-cigarettes that contain nicotine can harm developing brains until a person is 25 years old.

St. Elizabeth Medical Center and ArtsWave hired the filmmakers - who come from as far as Monroe - to create the short film. Fourthwall Studios in Over-the-Rhine brings all the students together and pays them to write, shoot and edit the film.

The studio's Director Frank O'Farrell says the end of the PSA shows a young actor still deciding if they should vape or not. "The high schoolers were absolutely adamant that if this film was shot from the perspective of an adult, or felt like middle schoolers were being told what to do, the message wouldn't resonate," he says.

The filmmakers are finishing up their final cut edit for submission this week.

The Ohio Department of Health says 4.9% of middle school students and 20.8% throughout the U.S. vape. O'Farrell says although the students' working on the PSA don't vape, they drew on similar experiences to drive the narrative.

Walnut Hills High School student Kiki Featherston is one of the project's editors. The lead actress in the PSA goes to the restroom and has a similar experience as Kiki. "I always walk into people vaping all the time and they're always using the stalls and I have to go to the bathroom but I am too scared to ask them," she says.

Kiki says her friends vape. At first, she wouldn't press too hard for them to stop vaping. But after learning about the cancer-causing chemicals and tiny particles that go deep into the lungs, she says she will be more straightforward in encouraging them to stop.

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Ambriehl Crutchfield
Ambriehl is a general assignment reporter with interest in education and communities. She works to amplify underrepresented voices and advance daily news stories. She comes to WVXU with previous reporting experience at NPR member stations WBEZ in Chicago and WKYU in Bowling Green, Ky.