Summer is winding down and families are excitedly preparing for the upcoming school year. Stores are brimming with school supplies. Students are anticipating reuniting with friends. Teachers are drafting lesson plans. And the tobacco industry is lying in wait, ready to recruit the next generation of tobacco users, with fancy teen-friendly flavors, tech-savvy products, and enticing online messages that show teens demonstrating fancy vape tricks.
Vaping, Juuling, and e-cigarette popularity is escalating at an alarming rate. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that this year's National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) found that more than 3.6 million middle and high school students were current (in past 30 days) e-cigarette users in 2018, a dramatic increase of more than 1.5 million students since 2017 where around 2.1 million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes. Teens who previously seemed impervious to smoking traditional cigarettes are now vaping at such a significant rate that the Surgeon General and FDA has declared youth use of e-cigarettes an epidemic.
In response to this growing concern, the American Lung Association stands ready to support schools in the fight against teen usage of e-cigarettes, cigarettes and other tobacco or nicotine products. In September, the Lung Association will launch INDEPTH: Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education Prevention Tobacco and Health. INDEPTH is an alternative to suspension program that focuses on education and intervention as an alternative to punitive measures for teens. This program works in tandem with Not On Tobacco (N-O-T), a youth cessation program that has successfully helped thousands of youth quit smoking over the past 20 years.
Schools and communities can access and download the INDEPTH program for free after successfully completing an on-demand, online training. The Lung Association staff also provides additional support with local training and technical assistance such as policy guidance, e-cigarette education and resources for schools and families, and offer complementary prevention, cessation and relevant advocacy resources.
In addition, N-O-T is a great supplemental resource to continue to encourage teens to quit tobacco. N-O-T is an evidence-based program with an impressive success rate, with approximately 90 percent of teens who participate in the program cutting back or quitting tobacco all together. You can learn more about the program on the American Lung Association website.
As schools prepare for the upcoming school year, we encourage them to review their campus and extra-curricular policy to determine what actions will be taken for tobacco and nicotine (including e-cigarette use) infractions. The Public Health Law Center offers guidance for providing an educational interventions such as INDEPTH.
Upon identifying use and confiscation of a prohibited device, we encourage schools to consider donating the items to the Lung Association for educational purposes, for outreach to schools, families or communities about e-cigarettes and emerging trends.
The Lung Association offers additional resources for e-cigarettes for anyone looking to learn more about the epidemic:
- Lung.org/e-cigs which includes factsheets for schools, parents and teens
- TheVapeTalk.org a resource for parents on how to talk to your teens
Wishing you a most successful school year!
Blog last updated: March 2, 2020