New Study Reveals Breakthrough Texting Program Aids Young Vapers in Quitting
New research published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research from Truth Initiative, the nonprofit organization behind the youth tobacco prevention campaign truth®, shows that a text message-based e-cigarette quit program could aid young people in their desire to stop vaping. Just five weeks after the launch of the first-of-its-kind quit vaping program This is Quitting, more than 27,000 youth and young adults enrolled, underscoring the need for quitting tools to combat the dramatic increase in youth e-cigarette use.
In January 2019, Truth Initiative expanded its proven-effective quit smoking resources to help the more than 20% of high schoolers who now vape nationwide. Declared an epidemic by the surgeon general, in just one year, vaping increased among high schoolers by 78% and among middle schoolers by 48%, as reported by the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. This Is Quitting was developed with the help of teens, college students and young adults who have already attempted to or successfully quit. Offered as part of truth and available at thetruth.com, the program gives young people a free, confidential and anonymous way to access behavioral support to quit vaping. Users receive interactive daily text messages (tailored to their age, sign-up date or quit date), which feature encouragement and empathy, motivation, skill-and self-efficacy building exercises, tips and advice.
Within the first five weeks of the This is Quitting text-message program launch, 13,421 teens and 13,750 young adults enrolled. The majority of teens (69%) and young adults (74%) set a quit date, which for close to half (44.7%) of enrollees was the day they enrolled. After just two weeks, more than half (60.8%) reported that they had reduced or stopped using e-cigarettes. At three months, 15.5% of respondents stated that they had quit vaping for 30-days or longer.
“Many young people who started vaping now want to quit, but they don’t know how,” said Dr. Amanda Graham, lead author and senior vice president, Innovations at Truth Initiative. “It’s clear that This is Quitting is meeting a need for thousands of young people through a channel they’re comfortable with. The fact that young people are setting a quit date the day they enroll shows that they are eager to break free from vaping. Our program allows them to get support discreetly and anonymously without having to disclose to an adult that they are vaping.”
Truth Initiative has a long history of developing engaging and effective tobacco cessation programs, including This Is Quitting, BecomeAnEX®, and the EX® Program. “Quitting e-cigarettes can be isolating for young people,” added Graham. “Text messaging is a proven, powerful strategy to deliver interventions that drive behavior change. We’ve taken input directly from young people and positioned This is Quitting as a supportive, non-judgmental friend, with text messages written in the first person or as quotes from other users.”
This approach is resonating with young people, with nearly half of teens and nearly 40% of young adults using the program’s interactive keyword feature, which allows users to text “CRAVE,” “STRESS,” or “SLIP” to receive additional, on-demand support. More than 7,500 individuals have responded to the open-ended questions in the program, with many expressing their appreciation for the compassion and support the program has provided.
Parents looking for support to help their child quit vaping can find resources on BecomeAnEX. Developed in collaboration with Mayo Clinic, BecomeAnEX has helped more than 800,000 tobacco users on their quitting journey. Research shows that following the BecomeAnEX quit plan quadruples a tobacco user's chance of quitting.
Knowing that young people who vape are four times more likely to go on to smoke traditional cigarettes, truth released its first e-cigarette educational effort in October 2018, Safer ≠ Safe, which shares the facts and clears up misperceptions about e-cigarettes. As a complement to that campaign, This Is Quitting is being distributed by truth to give young people who already vape the tools needed to quit. Young people can enroll in This Is Quitting at thetruth.com/quit or by texting “QUIT” to (706) 222-QUIT.