A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Vaping is LiveWell Florence battlefront; concerns over health risks, addiction, spur effort

By Patrick Moynahan
Rotary Club of Florence

The latest battlefront for opponents of tobacco use in Northern Kentucky is vaping.


LiveWell Florence, a community health coalition, has begun to target e-cigarettes, electronic devices that vaporize a liquid mixture for the user to inhale. Many of the mixtures contain nicotine, some in higher amounts that tobacco cigarettes, according to the American Lung Association.

“We are appalled at the rapid rate of increase in vaping in our high schools and middle schools,” said Mary Price, co-chair of the LiveWell Florence steering committee. She told members of the Rotary Club of Florence at a recent meeting that students don’t realize the dangers.

“They can get addicted fast,” she said. “They don’t realize that within a week, two weeks, they are addicted.”

LiveWell Florence grew out of the 2016-2020 Community Health Improvement Plan for Northern Kentucky. A group of citizen volunteers created LiveWell Florence to drive initiatives to promote tobacco-free public spaces, walkable communities and healthy eating.

The group won a $100,000 grant in 2018 to advocate for smoke-free city policies. They also supported legislation in the 2019 Kentucky General Assembly that made public schools tobacco-free. In the future, LiveWell Florence hopes to provide free NRT (nicotine replacement treatment) for people who want to kick the smoking habit, according to Price.

Combatting vaping now is a greater challenge than combustible tobacco, she said. LiveWell Florence is working with Boone County Schools to develop awareness programs and “quit classes” for students.

Teen use of e-cigarettes in Kentucky doubled from 2016 to 2018, according to a state survey.

“Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research on what works in people that young,” Price said. “We are trying to figure that out as we go.”

LiveWell Florence figured out how to improve healthy eating with help from Florence Christian Church, the FreeStore Foodbank and Kroger. The church provides space for a monthly food distribution program and Kroger donated fruits and vegetables.

The partnership makes it possible “to provide healthy produce to people who otherwise might not be able to afford it or access it,” Price said.

To improve physical activity, LiveWell Florence has created three neighborhood walking routes in the city to date. The organization also purchased a “spin art bike,” which enables youngsters to create an art project while pedaling, to use at community events to promote increased physical activity.

LiveWell Florence collaborates with the Northern Kentucky Health Department, St. Elizabeth Health Care and the Center for Great Neighborhoods in implementing goals of the community health plan.

A video replay of the meeting can be found on the club’s Facebook page.

The Rotary Club of Florence, Kentucky (serving all of Boone County) is a community service organization focusing on “service above self”.  The club meets weekly on Mondays at noon at the Hilton Airport located at 7373 Turfway Road.  Guests are always welcome.  To learn more about upcoming speakers and events, please visit the club’s website at www.florencerotary.org or follow their Facebook page.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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