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Millions of teens are hooked on vaping.
In 2017, 1 of 10 U.S. high school students used e-cigarettes.
In 2019, 1 of 3 U.S. high school students used e-cigarettes, according to CDC data.
As the popularity of youth vaping and e-cigarettes has surged, so has the public’s confusion over the health risks these products pose. The health risks are real. The U.S. Surgeon general called teen vaping a national health epidemic. The World Health Organization reports e-cigarettes are “not harmless” and “pose risks to users and non-users.”
Many groups are trying to get the word out.
Several innovative campaigns, many of which are bilingual to help reach Latino audiences, are working to address health issues like youth use of e-cigarettes and vaping.
1. CDC: ‘Protecting Young People from E-Cigarettes’ Campaign (English and Spanish)
The CDC’s Protecting Young People from E-Cigarettes bilingual campaign aims to highlight the skyrocketing rates of e-cigarette use among young people and the potential harms.
- Social media materials on e-cigarette aerosol
- Bilingual Fact sheet:
- “Our brain” English-language radio spot and bilingual social media materials
- Bilingual Fact sheet: E-cigarettes and Youth: What Educators and Coaches Need to Know
“Images display the variety of shapes and sizes of e-cigarettes, the increase in youth use rates, and the harmful and potentially harmful substances in e-cigarette aerosol,” according to the CDC.
2. CDC: ‘Know the Risks’ Campaign (English)
The CDC’s Know Your Risk campaign aims to help parents know the risks of e-cigarettes.
- a video
- radio spot
- digital display
- social media materials.
CDC notes that many e-cigarettes contain nicotene, which is addictive.
“[The content] highlights how e-cigarettes have the potential to cause lasting harm to the health of young users, especially their brain development, which continues until age 25,” according to the CDC. “[It can impact attention, learning, and memory.”
3. Coalition: The Tobacco-Free Schools Initiative
The CVS Health Foundation, American Heart Association, Alliance for a Healthier Generation launched an initiative to reduce vaping in schools.
The initiative gives school leaders access to many helpful resources, including:
- A Tobacco-Free District Assessment that helps districts identify opportunities to update or strengthen their current tobacco policies and practices.
- A Tobacco-Free District Model Policy that promotes supportive disciplinary practices and alternatives to suspension.
- On-demand webinars to help educators grow and sustain a tobacco-free culture of health.
- Technical assistance and support to guide leaders in creating sustainable change.
- Evidence-based strategies and resources.
“Youth vaping is one of the biggest obstacles we face in helping to create the first tobacco-free generation,” said Eileen Howard Boone of CVS in a press release.
4. National Institutes of Health: Smokefree Teen
Smokefree.gov has a quit vaping platform for teens with these resources:
- Build My Vapping Quit Plan. This is a personalized quit vaping plan
- How to Quit Vaping. This helps you to prepare in advance and have a plan for quitting.
- Your First Day Without Vaping. This guides you on your first day without vaping.
- Deal With Vaping Craving. This helps you to deal with your cravings, which could be the hardest part of quitying vaping
- Understand Your Vaping Triggers. This explains the triggers that make you want to vape.
- Vaping Addiction and Nicotine Withdrawal. This helps you to understand about nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
- Anxiety Stress and Vaping. This explains the stress and anxiety that can trigger vaping cravings.
- Depression and Vaping. This explains depression related to vaping and how to cope with that.
“Along with SmokefreeTXT, Smokefree Teen offers several social media pages to connect teens with cessation tools. In January 2012, Smokefree Teen launched a free smartphone application, QuitSTART—an interactive quit guide for teens that delivers cessation and mood management tips, tracks cravings, and monitors quit attempts,” according to the website.
5. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: ‘Protect Kids: Fight Flavored E-Cigarettes’ Campaign
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids launched Protect Kids emphasizes the role of parents in helping stop the youth e-cigarette surge.
Their resources focus on:
- What Parents Need to Know. This helps parents to understand how prevalent e-cigarettes are, and the serious health risks they pose to young people.
- Stories From the Frontlines. These help create awareness by featuring youth, parents, teachers, principals and health care providers battling this epidemic on the front lines.
- Tips on Talking to Your Kids. These fact sheets help parents communicate effectively with kids.
- How You Can Help End This Youth Epidemic. This helps parents understand how they can get involved to help stop this youth epidemic.
“The increasing use of e-cigarettes among youth threatens five decades of public health gains in successfully de-glamorizing, restricting, and decreasing the use of tobacco products,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. “To prevent children, adolescents, and young adults from transitioning from e-cigarettes to traditional cigarettes and to minimize the potential public health harm from e-cigarette use, there is a critical need for e-cigarette regulation, legislative action, and counter promotion to help youth live tobacco-free lives.”
6. Ad Council and American Lung Association: ‘Talk about Vaping’ Campaign
The Ad Council‘s “Talk About Vaping” campaign drives parents to get their head out of the cloud and learn the facts about youth vaping so they can have proactive, ongoing conversations with their children about the dangers of vaping.
The program is sponsored by American Lung Association.
For the campaign, The American Lung Association and Ad Council conducted research and interviewed hundreds of parents and teenagers.
The Ad Council provides banners, prints and videos guide parents to understand the problem and help start a conversation with their kids about the dangers of vaping.
“The best thing we can do is to help parents realize how widespread the vaping epidemic is and equip them to talk about it,” said Julia Fitzgerald, chief marketing officer at the American Lung Association, in a press release. “We’re trying to address the amount of misinformation that parents had. Big tobacco has been marketing vaping as something that’s not harmful, so many parents didn’t have this on their radar as something they should be concerned about.”
“The culture of vaping has become so prevalent in high schools that if kids were already introduced to that culture sometimes they feel like they had to defend it, the behavior of their friends or their own behavior,” Fitzgerald said. “We need to reach the parents of children before they enter into that heavy duty culture.”
7. FDA: ‘The Real Cost’ Campaign
The U.S Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) the Real Cost Campaign launched in 2014 with cigarette prevention messaging using a robust paid media strategy to effectively reach teens and change their tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
The resources in the campaign includes:
- E-Cigarette Prevention Campaign
- Cigarette Smoking Prevention Campaign
- Smokeless Tobacco Prevention Campaign
- Campaign Resources
- Awards and Recognition
“Ad campaigns, such as the Food and Drug Administration’s ‘The Real Cost,’ have been warning teens and young adults of the ‘real cost’ of e-cigarettes and vaping since 2014,” said Sunil Sharma of West Virginia University in a press release. “The FDA has also banned advertisements for e-cigarette products targeted at minors and banned enticing fruit and mint e-liquid flavors.”
Why Do We Need These Campaigns to Address Youth Vaping, Especially amid COVID-19?
E-cigarettes are still relatively new, and researchers need to conduct more analysis over a more extended period to know what the long-term effects may be. What they do know is that these products contain high concentrations of nicotine, which if swallowed, can be poisonous and cause side effects such as seizures in lungs of young adults and teens.
Young people who vape are more susceptible to COVID-19 than those who do not, a study found.
“That data—collected from a May 2020 national survey of 13- to 24-year-olds—showed that vapers are five times more likely to get COVID-19,” Salud America! reports.
What Does the Latest Research Say About the Toxicity of E-Cigarettes?
A study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research found that just one month of vaping altered the lungs of people who had never vaped before. Lungs of people in the vaping group experienced small changes in inflammation over the course of four weeks.
The liquid added to e-cigarettes to be vaporized, known a sthe “e-liquid”, contains many carinogenic components. A recent study in Toxicology Reports found that refill liquids for e-cigarettes display peculiar toxicity on human endothelial cells, adding more unknown complications.
E-cigarettes also contain acrolein, a herbicide primarily used to kill weeds, according to another study. It can contribute to acute lung injury, COPD, and even asthma and lung cancer.
Another recent study from Greece demonstrated that some flavorings added to e-cigarette liquids induce oxidative stress-related toxicity. This suggests that, in combination with nicotine, they could affect the safety profile of e-cigarette refills.
Researchers from University of California Irvine recently studied the e-cigarette vape and lung ACE2 expression with an implications for coronavirus vulnerability. Study findings reveal a putative biological underpinning that likely mitigates this increased susceptibility.
“[These results] indicate a direct link between e-cigarette vaping and increased ACE2 expression in male lung tissue, which thereby reveals an underlying mechanism of increased vulnerability to coronavirus infection in individuals vaping nicotine,” according to the researchers.
What Else Can Be Done to Address Youth Vaping?
The campaigns mentioned earlier can help.
But health experts say policy change is needed.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids suggests three primary approaches available to governments acting to regulate e-cigarettes:
- Completely banning e-cigarettes
- Regulating e-cigarettes as medicinal or therapeutic products
- Regulating e-cigarettes using tobacco control measures.
“Government policy makers and regulatory agencies around the world must take e-cigarettes seriously due to their potential impacts on youth and their ability to reverse or hinder national health goals,” according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
You Can Get Involved, Too.
Promote clean indoor air with the new “Mil Gracias (A Thousand Thanks) for Not Smoking Indoors!” campaign from UT Health San Antonio. The campaign invites people to share gratitude for smokers and vapers who respect others’ air during the COVID-19 respiratory pandemic:
- Email a “thank you” to smokers who protect others by not smoking indoors.
- Sign a letter acknowledging the health dangers of secondhand smoke exposure.
- Share the need to reduce secondhand smoke in multifamily dwellings.
If you are interested in quitting cigarettes or vaping, join Quitxt is a bilingual service from UT Health San Antonio, and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
Quitxt sends messages via phone texts or Facebook Messenger chat to help South Texas adults quit smoking.
Join Quitxt in one of two ways:
- Text version: For English, text “iquit” to 844-332-2058. For Spanish, text “lodejo” to 844-332-2058.
- Facebook Messenger version: Go here and just hit “send message.”
“Quitting smoking could immediately improve your chances of staying healthy. Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, the heart returns to normal resting rate, blood circulation improves and blood pressure begins to drop,” The Daily Sabah reports. “Within 72 hours, healthy cells begin to replace damaged ones in the lungs, and the lungs regain full capacity.”