Plainview-Elgin-Millville students become finalists in Escape the Vape video challenge

The public can vote for the winning video from March 24 through April 6. The winner will be announced the next day on April 7.

Escape the Vape Video Challenge
Plainview-Elgin-Millville students, from left, Ryan Gostonczik, 17, a senior, William Ryan, 17, a junior, and Cameron Bluhm, 18, also a senior, are finalists for the "Escape the Vape Video Challenge," a PSA video challenge coordinated by ACET, Inc. in partnership with the Minnesota of Department of Health. The three are pictured Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at Plainview-Elgin-Millville High School in Plainview.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

PLAINVIEW, Minn. — Three students from Plainview-Elgin-Millville High School have been named finalists in a statewide Escape the Vape video contest right as the state attorney general is beginning a trial against two vaping companies.

The contest is held to create videos highlighting the dangers of vaping. The public can vote for the winning video from March 24 through April 6. The winner will be announced the next day on April 7.

"I think one of the reasons our video is different is we did it in a fun way where some high schooler would actually enjoy watching it," said Cameron Bluhm. "And yet it still got multiple facts across about why you shouldn't vape."

The video is in two parts. The first is of one of the students, William Ryan, rapping in a hallway of the school before falling down in a coughing fit. The video then cuts to the students in a cemetery, citing statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the number of deaths related to e-cigarettes since 2020.

More than 600 students competed in the vido competition, which included separate categories for middle school and high school students. The PEM trio is one of five finalists.


If they win, the students will get $500 to split, and another $500 to give to their organization of choice. Being theater kids, they said they plan to donate to the school's one-act play if they win.

"There's not much funding for one-act right now, so I think that would be cool," Ryan Gostonczik said.

The students' Escape the Vape video coincided with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison giving his opening remarks at the trial against vaping companies Juul and Altria. The state first filed its lawsuit in 2019.

"They baited, deceived and addicted a whole new generation of kids after Minnesotans slashed youth smoking rates down to the lowest level in a generation," Ellison said at the trial. "Now, Big Tobacco is back with a new name — but the same game. Juul wiped out the work of our state with their slick products, clever ads and attractive flavors."

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or
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