On Sunday, the Disney Channel series starring Raven-Symoné will air an episode called “What About Your Friends,” in which the show’s young characters learn a lesson about vaping.
“Vaping is a massive issue within this generation, multiple generations,” the actress told CNN. “So when [the writer’s] said that they were about to [tackle] it, I was all for it.”
The episode and messaging were developed with help from the group Hollywood, Health & Society, a program of the Norman Lear Center, that helps Hollywood writers and producers with resources on health, safety and security. In this case, experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USC, to name a few, were brought in to consult.
The target audience for “Raven’s Home” is ages 6-14. The star says she’s often approached by people of all ages who watch with their children.
The episode was crafted with that in mind, with messages for children who might feel peer pressure to try and parents who may not be completely aware of the issue.
“There are a lot of children who seem to be marketed to, and a lot of parents who just don’t even have any idea what these devices [look like],” executive producer and showrunner Warren Hutcherson told CNN. “A lot of them look like flash drives or they look like things that your kid could have right in their hand, and you wouldn’t even pay attention to it.”
The CDC said this week that there have been more than 2,800 cases of vaping-related lung injuries that required hospitalization reported.
That number includes 68 deaths in 29 states and the District of Columbia, the youngest being 15 years old, the agency said, also noting “continued declines” in new cases since they peaked in September 2019.
In the episode, Raven Baxter’s (Raven-Symoné) son Booker must clear his name after being caught with a vaping device that was not his at school.
“A success story would be a parent who [after watching the episode] got the courage to sit down with their child, have an intelligent conversation and speak candidly and honestly with each other,” the former “That’s So Raven” star said. “Just making a difference in society one person at a time is all the success I need.”