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Targeting Kids 

The Department of Health's new marijuana prevention campaign reaches out to teens

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The Washington State Department of Health recently launched "Listen2YourSelfie," a marijuana prevention campaign targeted at 12-to-17-year-olds with the tagline "Remember what's important and forget marijuana."

"We're committed to keeping all of our young people safe and healthy," Secretary of Health John Wiesman said in a press release. "One way to help create the healthiest next generation is to educate about the risks of marijuana and empower our youth to make healthy choices."

The campaign's website, listen2yourselfie.org, is divided into three sections: Health Effects, Consequences and IRL ("In Real Life").

The information is presented in a young, casual voice that might seem cringeworthy to anyone not currently in high school, but is appropriate for the target audience.

The Health Effects section talks about just that: marijuana's effect on a user's brain, memory, coordination, mood, motivation and judgment.

Sample teen-ism: "Marijuana can cause you to lose interest in all the awesome activities and hobbies you used to dig."

The Consequences section explains what's at risk when a teen begins smoking, including losing freedom, relationships, jobs, financial aid and extracurricular activities.

Sample teen-ism: "I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T. Beyoncé said it. But real talk, marijuana and independence don't mix."

The IRL section goes into detail about what's legal and illegal for recreational users under state law, and the effects of THC and mixing marijuana with alcohol. There's also info about medical marijuana and resources for more information and getting help.

Sample teen-ism: "Don't worry: [the toll-free Teenlink]'s on the DL, so your parents won't find out."

Listen2YourSelfie was created using funds from Initiative 502, the initiative that legalized the use of recreational marijuana in Washington, which required the Department of Health (more specifically, the Marijuana Prevention and Education Program within the Prevention and Community Health Division) to create a statewide, media-based campaign to prevent teens from using marijuana.

The campaign will reach its audience with videos and advertisements as teens visit various websites, play online games, use search engines and listen to streaming radio, as well as through Listen2YourSelfie Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts.

Meanwhile, a just-released report examining legalization in Colorado found that kids in that state aren't smoking more cannabis since it became legal. However, the rate among adults is clearly on the rise. ♦

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