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Research Article Research Article

Why we need more research on how to help young people quit vaping

There is limited research on how to help young adults 18-24 quit vaping, according to a recent review published in Addictive Behaviors. This dearth in research exists despite high rates of vaping, strong demand for quitting vaping programs among young people, and a call for more research to develop effective vaping cessation interventions.

Young people are vaping at epidemic levels, making it critical to build effective vaping cessation tools. About one in five high school students were using e-cigarettes in 2020 and the rates of 18- to 24-year-olds who used e-cigarettes nearly doubled between 2014 and 2019 from 5.2% to 9.3%. Recent Truth Initiative research published in Preventive Medicine Reports shows a majority of current young e-cigarette users surveyed say they intend to quit, with one-third reporting a past-year quit attempt and 15% aiming to quit in the next month.

Young Adult girl on road

Here’s what we know – and where we need more research – when it comes to helping young adults quit vaping:

  • Research shows that effective smoking cessation treatments should include problem-solving and coping skills training, intra-treatment social support, and FDA-approved cessation medications, when appropriate. These recommendations are based on an adult population but are still applicable to young adults - additional research that focuses on the caveats and limitations younger populations is still needed. Guidelines for smoking cessation should also be adapted to vaping cessation to account for different patterns of use, motives for vaping initiation, and motives for quitting vaping, among other factors.
  • Mobile phone-based behavioral interventions are effective for long-term smoking cessation and are effective among young adults. Ninety-nine percent of young adults own mobile phones and prefer text messaging, making it a useful modality to deliver vaping cessation interventions.
  • Research shows that providing interventions through multiple modes of delivery is likely to boost quit rates, and counseling from a real person (including via text messaging) boosts quit rates over automated text-messaging programs alone.
  • More research needed on new technology-based interventions, like programs expanding text messaging, designed as smartphone apps, chatbots, or integrated with social media.

This is Quitting is a free and anonymous text messaging program from Truth Initiative designed to help young people quit vaping. The first-of-its-kind quit program incorporates messages from other young people like them who have attempted to, or successfully quit, e-cigarettes. The review in Addictive Behaviors highlights This is Quitting as an promising example of a theory-driven, technology-based approach to vaping cessation that has shown strong uptake and engagement among young people.

Results from a randomized clinical trial of the effectiveness of This is Quitting are forthcoming. To our knowledge, this is the first randomized trial of any quit vaping intervention.  

For free help with quitting vaping, text DITCHVAPE to 88709.