Read the badass message Nickelodeon showed during the student walkout.

Students across the country took part in a national walkout to end gun violence on March 14, 2018.

Students in Philadelphia participate in the walkout. Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images.

Beginning at 10 a.m. local times, thousands of students at hundreds of schools abandoned their classrooms to send a clear message to legislators from coast to coast: They may be young, but they mean business when it comes to gun control.


And they had a sizable chunk of cable TV in their corner while they did it.

Cable TV giant Viacom suspended all programming during the walkout as a show of solidarity with student participants.

The media conglomerate — which owns networks like MTV, Comedy Central, BET, and Nickelodeon — broadcasted bold statements to viewers instead.

"We believe it’s critical to support the inspiring efforts of our youth, who are literally fighting for their lives," Marva Smalls, Viacom's executive vice president of global inclusion, said in a statement. "Viacom also has a responsibility to our audiences to do everything we can to elevate the many brave and bold activists to help them extend the reach and impact of their voices in this important movement."

If you tuned into Nickelodeon, for instance, this is what you would have seen.

If you flipped on MTV, this message would have been on your screen.

The network also had students take over its social media channels for a period during the day.

And BET told viewers it's "going dark" during the walkout as well.

Both the walkout and suspension in Viacom programming lasted 17 minutes in honor of the 17 victims of the shooting at a Florida high school on Feb. 14.

The senseless tragedy rattled the country — and then prompted a wave of student activists to rise up in its wake.

"We are going to be the kids you read about in text books," said Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in a powerful speech on Feb. 17. "Not because we're going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because ... we are going to be the last mass shooting."

Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Viacom said it also has plans to boost messaging and awareness around the March for Our Lives, a protest largely being executed by student activists demanding common sense gun legislation on March 24, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

"Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that we are self-involved and trend-obsessed, and they hush us into submission when our message doesn't reach the ears of the nation," Gonzalez said in her speech, "we are prepared to call BS."

Learn more about the March for Our Lives.

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Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign. We don't do PSAs. We also need to update so to explain truth – the nonprofit behind the truth youth smoking prevention campaign – you could also say this in a funny way – best known for sharing the facts about smoking and vaping or pull from some old campaigns. Just layer in a description of truth and who the campaign is., is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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