Montpelier, VT — On Thursday, Vermont high schoolers marched in the state capital to send a message to lawmakers about the dangers of vaping. E-High school students spoke with Vermont legislators about substance abuse prevention.

“I wanted to speak with legislators to kind of inform them what’s going on in our schools,” said Luca Deruzza, a junior at Stowe High School. 

“It’s awesome to come together and make a difference,” said Lica Morse, a Vermont student.

The students expressed concern about what they see is an increased use of e-cigarettes and products they feel are targeted to them. 

“I used to use nicotine products and I have some friends who still do,” said Thomas Sutton, a senior at Burlington High School. Sutton has quit vaping but he worries about his friends. “We can’t expect people of that age to have the critical thinking to know about nicotine and tobacco use to make an educational decision.” 

Another student said she thinks the pandemic is to blame. “You’re lonely, you’re bored. It’s like how many constructive things can we do. When you can’t go to parks, you can’t go to sporting events and all these positive things that make life enjoyable.” 

Sutton thinks people like him are being unfairly targeted by companies and would like to see a ban on flavored products. “We cannot have tobacco and nicotine products that have the same names as soda and candy. It is targeted marketing to kids” 

State lawmakers were happy to see students come out to the statehouse.

“I’m really encouraged by the number of youth who are here,” said Rep. Kelly Pajala. “They are doing the work of being good role models in their community.” 

“You matter and I am hearing that loud and clear,” said Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale. “And I want to agree with the Commissioner that we need that funding restored for all of you.”

Lawmakers say they are in talks about putting together legislation aimed at reducing or eliminating flavored e-cigarettes.