Tobacco Prevention and Cessation for Youth
Tobacco Prevention and Cessation for Youth and Young Adults
With the alarming rise of the use of e-cigarettes, or vapes, among youth, it’s more important than ever to work together every day to take down tobacco! No matter the type of product, tobacco use is almost always established during adolescence and there is a critical need to stop youth initiation of tobacco before it begins.
Know the Risks
It is unsafe for youth to use tobacco products in any form, whether smoked, smokeless or electronic. There are thousands of chemicals and chemical compounds, many of which are considered toxic, in tobacco products.
Tobacco use begins to damage the body immediately. And youth who use multiple tobacco products are at higher risk for developing nicotine dependence and might be more likely to continue using tobacco into adulthood.2 Young adults under age 30 who started smoking in their teens and early twenties can develop serious health-related problems, including:
- Early cardiovascular disease
- Smaller lungs that don’t function normally
- Wheezing that can lead to a diagnosis of asthma
- DNA damage that can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body2
The Dangers of Nicotine
What makes tobacco so dangerously addictive is nicotine—the addictive chemical that provides an immediate hit of satisfaction. Nicotine is quickly absorbed when smoked, chewed or vaped, going directly to the brain, making the user feel happy and satisfied which makes nicotine dangerously addictive. As tobacco use continues, every organ in their bodies is repeatedly exposed to harmful chemicals.
More Americans are addicted to nicotine than any other drug. Research suggests nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol. Nicotine in any form is harmful to a teenager’s still-developing brain and can negatively affect memory, learning and concentration.4
New Products for the Next Generation
Tobacco companies target youth and young adults as the potential next generation of lifelong customers. Young people are especially susceptible to marketing from the tobacco industry when first tempted by tobacco products. It’s one of the top reasons youth attribute beginning tobacco use, along with social pressures.
Tobacco ads make smoking and vaping appear appealing to increase the desire to smoke. Tobacco companies also have a long history of developing and marketing flavored tobacco products as “starter” products that attract kids. These products undermine the nation’s efforts to reduce youth tobacco use and put young adults at risk of nicotine addiction.
Cigarette companies continue to develop new products like e-cigarettes and IQOS to encourage new consumers to try their products and appeal to younger audiences.
It’s Time to Take Action
We cannot end the tobacco epidemic without preventing initiation by young people, whether by vaping, dipping or smoking.5 National, state and local prevention programs have been shown to successfully reduce and prevent youth tobacco product use, especially when implemented together.
We all have a part to play in providing a tobacco-free life for the next generation.
Parent action is crucial to preventing tobacco use in kids. First, you can start by learning more about e-cigarettes and vapes from the CDC and watching this video to learn what they look like. Then start a conversation with your kids! You can use the American Lung Association’s Vape Talk Conversation Guide or the Surgeon General’s Vape Conversation Tip Sheet to help you get started.
On Your Campus
Geaux 100% Tobacco-Free
Did you know? All Louisiana schools are tobacco-free. Lawmakers cleared the air for every student in the state in 2017 by passing Act 351. The legislation prohibits smoking across more than 1,400 schools statewide. Talk about breathing room!
Start by learning more about e-cigarettes and vapes from the CDC. You can also take a look at the CDC’s Evidence Brief: Tobacco Industry-Sponsored Youth Prevention Programs in Schools.
Well-Ahead provides resources and technical assistance to help you implement a tobacco-free policy at your school and ensure it complies with Louisiana law, LA RS 17:240 (A) and (B). You can also make a request for tobacco-free and smoke-free signage for your school.
Schools and youth organizations have a role to play in raising awareness among youth on the dangers of vape products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted extensive research to develop effective messaging and outreach strategies for youth tobacco prevention.
They developed posters that you can place in student bathrooms, locker rooms and science classrooms on your campus that educate on the harmful chemicals in vapes.
These posters may seem shocking, yet research shows their messages resonate with teens.
Educators and coaches can also educate youth on the health risks of vapes, nicotine dependence, tobacco industry advertising tactics and youth tobacco data through trainings and presentations.
- Request a training or presentation by contacting email@example.com—many are even youth-led!
- Use the CDC’s Youth Guide to E-Cigarettes presentation and talking points to give your own training.
Other resources for school staff include the FDA’s The Real Cost of Vaping education series for grades 6-12, Stanford Medicine’s Tobacco Prevention Toolkit for middle or high school students and the Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) vape prevention program, CATCH My Breath, specific to grades 5-12.
In Your Healthcare Facility
Healthcare providers play a major role in addressing and treating tobacco use among youth and young adults.
- Ask about e-cigarettes when screening patients for tobacco use – be on the lookout for symptoms of EVALI (cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, fever, chills and weight loss). To learn more about EVALI, visit the CDC’s website.
- Educate young patients and parents about the risks of tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes
- Connect youth to cessation resources and support that is tailored to their specific needs teen.smokefree.gov
- Learn more about best practices for screening, treating and referring patients to quit support by taking the Brief Tobacco Intervention Training and becoming a certified Fax-To-Quit provider
- Stay up to date on the latest in tobacco prevention by joining the Provider Education Network
- Adopt or strengthen a tobacco-free policy at your facility
In Your Community
Take Down Tobacco, part of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, is a year-long effort that peaks every March with Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action. This effort encourages people to:
- Hold events that raise awareness about the problem of tobacco use in your community
- Encourage youth to reject the tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing and stay tobacco-free
- Educate elected officials on ways to protect kids from tobacco
You can also get involved in or help start community programs and school and college policies that encourage tobacco-free places and lifestyles, community programs that lower tobacco advertising and promotions, and help make tobacco products less easily available.
Join the Louisiana Tobacco Coalition to get started.
- Visit the CDC-Office on Smoking and Health for more fast facts, state and community resources, quick access to Surgeon General Reports, Best Practice Guides for Tobacco Control, Infographics, and more. You can also use the CDC Best Practices User Guide: Youth Engagement in Tobacco Prevention and Control for help on implementing evidence-based practices.
- The Richmond Center offers tools and resources to help clinicians and communities, as well as supports research and policy development to create a healthy environment for children, adolescents and families.
- Truth Initiative has facts about tobacco and the industry behind it, works to engage individuals and groups to make change in their communities, and innovative ways to end tobacco use.
Next Era is a statewide youth movement of The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL). Founded in 2017, Next Era teens across Louisiana are uniting as agents of change to promote healthy, tobacco-free lifestyles. For more information on what this group does and how your youth can get involved visit Next Era.
Rapides Foundation works to improve the health status of Central Louisiana. Their Healthy Behaviors Initiative addresses important health behaviors including tobacco use, overweight/obesity, and substance and alcohol abuse prevention. For more information about their initiatives, programs, and annual youth summit, visit the Rapides Foundation.
1 Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2015. Public Health Implications of Raising the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco Products. Retrieved from pages 65-66 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310412/pdf/Bookshelf_NBK310412.pdf
2 Surgeon General Report: Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, 2012. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2012/consumer_booklet/pdfs/consumer.pdf
3 Louisiana Youth Tobacco Survey, 2019. https://wellaheadla.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2019_LYTS_FINAL.pdf
5 CDC Best Practices User Guide: Youth Engagement. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/stateandcommunity/best-practices-youth-engagement/pdfs/best-practices-youth-engagement-user-guide.pdf