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New museum exhibit explores vaping

July 23rd, 2021

A viewer examines the "Vapes" exhibit at NMC Health.

Kauffman Museum tackles the controversial issue of e-cigarettes in its newest special exhibit, which had its grand opening July 29 at the museum.

The public was invited to view “Vapes: Marketing an Addiction” with the exhibit team present to interact with visitors.

“Vapes," which just finished a 7-week run at NMC Health in Newton, examines what is known about e-cigarettes, the new alternative to smoking.

The exhibition tells three intertwining stories: the rise and fall of cigarette smoking and advertising in the 20th century; the emergence of the e-cigarette – and new marketing strategies – in the 21st century; and the challenges of nicotine addiction and quitting.

Designed as three compact, free-standing modules, “Vapes” features examples of vaping products, videos, photomurals and an LED infographic to educate visitors about e-cigarettes and marketing by the tobacco industry.

The third module is devoted to community response, with space for visitors to contribute their stories and questions.

An 11-minute video presents “STANDing Up for Change,” the story of Newton-area youth who joined community leaders to successfully advocate for a local ordinance that raised the minimum age to 21 for purchasing e-cigarettes.

Andi Schmidt Andres, Kauffman Museum director, commented, “NMC Health, Harvey County Health Department and Mirror, Inc. have been valuable community partners in the development of ‘Vapes.’

“Not only does the exhibit explain the dangers of vaping and offer suggestions for those who want to quit, it exposes the excessive marketing used to influence teenagers.”

The Kauffman Museum Association, NMC Health, Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, Newton Et Cetera Shop and Butler Rural Electric Cooperative provided financial support for the development of “Vapes.”

NMC Health President and CEO Val Gleason said, “In health care, tobacco beats us every step of the way. This remarkable exhibit quickly outlines the effective marketing tactics of tobacco over a 140-year span. It also reminds us that the battle for great health is far from over.”

“Vapes: Marketing an Addiction” was developed as a companion to Kauffman Museum’s traveling exhibit “Better Choose Me: Collecting and Creating with Tobacco Fabric Novelties, 1880-1920.”

“Better Choose Me” tells how companies promoted tobacco consumption through the distribution of free collectible novelties at the turn of the last century. Selections from this exhibit will be shown alongside “Vapes.”

After it closes at Kauffman Museum, “Vapes” will be offered to hospitals, libraries and museums as a traveling exhibit. 

For more information on the exhibit, public programs and current COVID protocols, visit or Kauffman Museum’s Facebook page, or contact Kauffman Museum at or 316-283-1612.

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are Tues.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 1:30-4:30 p.m., closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6.

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.