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How a vaping prevention curriculum can help teachers, schools and communities reverse the youth e-cigarette epidemic

With youth vaping continuing at epidemic levels – about one in five high school students were using e-cigarettes in 2020 – schools and communities have an important role to play in reaching students with the information they need to make informed choices, as well as tools to quit if they are already vaping.

Vaping: Know the truth, a national youth vaping prevention curriculum developed as part of Truth Initiative’s nationally recognized youth anti-vaping truth® campaign, gives young people the facts about e-cigarette use and provides resources to quit with This is Quitting, a first-of-its-kind text message program that is already helping nearly 250,000 young people. Vaping: Know the truth, which Truth Initiative and Kaiser Permanente launched in collaboration with the American Heart Association, is available to schools and the public at large at no cost through the leading social impact education innovator, EVERFI.

The curriculum, which offers a modern approach to guide teachers and educate America’s youth about the dangers associated with e-cigarette use and vaping, is meeting an urgent need. Here’s why.

Young people need the facts about vaping

Many young people did not know the health risks of e-cigarettes when they started using them. In fact, a majority of youth e-cigarette users think they vaped only flavoring, not nicotine, the last time they used a product.

The health risks of vaping – youth exposure to nicotine can harm brain development, alter nerve cell functioning and make adolescent brains more susceptible to other addictive drugs – have also intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health shows that young people who reported ever using e-cigarettes were up to five times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 compared to those who had never vaped.

Vaping: Know the truth fills critical knowledge gaps about how these products can be detrimental to their health, as well as how e-cigarette marketers intentionally target young consumers. The 40- to 45-minute self-administered interactive course is comprised of four learning modules: the “Know,” which introduces students to the topic of vaping; the “Uncover,” which provides hard facts around marketing efforts from Big Tobacco; the “Overcome,” which explores the dangers of nicotine addiction; and the “Change,” which delves into the benefits of living a vape-free life.

Youth and young adults want to quit and need help

Most young e-cigarette users want to quit vaping – a new Truth Initiative survey found 60% of young current e-cigarette users surveyed want to quit vaping within the year – signaling a pressing need to provide resources to support them.

This is Quitting is targeted specifically to young people and is tailored based on age (within 13 to 24 years old) and product usage to give teens and young adults appropriate recommendations about quitting. A Truth Initiative survey shows that, of those who want to quit, more than half (51.2%) agree that texting would help them. The program incorporates text messages from other young people like them who have attempted to, or successfully quit, e-cigarettes. Our messages show the real side of quitting, both the good and the bad, to help young people feel motivated, inspired and supported throughout their quitting process.

To support the many people who want to quit, the latest youth e-cigarette education campaign from truth, Quit Together, taps current e-cigarette users and TikTok influencers to broadcast their own experiences as they quit vaping, in real-time, to their huge followings across social media platforms. In Quit Together, which was featured in a Mashable storyVictoria Annunziato (aka King Victober), Tosha, and Jerry Purpdrank are asking their millions of followers to join them in using This is Quitting.

 

Teachers need resources to deal with the epidemic

Teachers have reported youth vaping is impacting their ability to educate students because of frequent class interruptions, decreased student focus and few resources to help them address the problem, according to previous Truth Initiative® research.

Available free of charge to teachers, students, administrators, parents and the public at large, Vaping: Know the truth is a self-administered interactive course with peer-to-peer, digital instruction geared to high school students and available to teachers of other grade levels.