Take Down Tobacco 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. Early use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, among youth disrupts brain development, increases the risk of long-term addiction and may cause irreversible health effects before reaching adulthood.1 The risks of tobacco use can have a big impact on a young person’s overall health and every aspect of life, including their academic success.


of residents who begin using tobacco start by age 18, and 99% start by age 26²


youth and young adults considered occasional cigarette users become regular cigarette users every day, and at least a third of those who become regular cigarette users will die early due to tobacco use¹


Even though cigarette smoking has decreased among youth, the use of e-cigarettes has tripled since 2015³

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.1 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 body1

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

The Next Generation for Tobacco Companies

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.

New Tobacco Products for Youth

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 for Schools 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. Schools play an important role in providing a tobacco-free environment and lifestyle for the next generation.

By implementing tobacco-free policies, structuring education and disciplinary practices to help prevent youth from starting tobacco use, and offering supportive approaches when students are caught using tobacco products, schools can prevent initiation and reduce overall youth tobacco use.

When talking to youth about tobacco, remember there is no perfect time or perfect thing to say. Be open and honest and prepare yourself with the facts. Ask youth what they think and be ready to listen. It’s important to be patient and encouraging and keep an ongoing conversation.

  • Geaux 100% Tobacco-Free

    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.

    You can also use The Real Cost Posters developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to educate teens on the harmful chemicals in vapes. The FDA conducted extensive research to develop effective messaging and outreach strategies for youth tobacco prevention. These posters may seem shocking, yet research shows their messages resonate with teens.

  • Implement Alternative Disciplinary Policies

    School suspension due to tobacco product use in early adolescence is proven to be an established predictor of adverse outcomes in young people and disproportionately affects African American students and students with disabilities. Instead of solely focusing on discipline, schools have the opportunity to offer interactive programs that educate students about nicotine dependence, establishing healthy alternatives and how to kick the unhealthy addiction that got them in trouble in the first place.

    The goal is to keep students in the classroom while providing schools with a resource to help educate students about the negative health effects of using these addictive devices. Tobacco alternative to suspension programs focus on education and helping students move towards the decision to quit. These programs can be used as a consequence whereas participating in a cessation program should be voluntary, when a student has made the decision to quit for themselves.

    One example of a program schools can implement is the American Lung Association’s INDEPTH (Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health) program. Students that commit a tobacco related infraction should be required to participate in this program as an alternative to suspension or citation. INDEPTH is administered by a trained adult facilitator in either a one-on-one or group format and can be offered in a school or community-based setting.

  • Educate Teachers

    Before educating students, make sure your teachers and staff have access to the latest education and resources about youth tobacco prevention and cessation. These resources and trainings will equip teachers with the information they need to educate their students.

  • Educate Students

    The first step in prevention is education. Teachers and coaches can use these trainings and presentations to educate youth on the health risks of vapes, nicotine dependence, tobacco industry advertising tactics and youth tobacco data.

  • Encourage Peer-to-Peer Tobacco Prevention

    Youth can be powerful allies to help communicate to their peers the impact of tobacco use on young people, implement effective tobacco control strategies and shift social norms around tobacco use in their communities.

    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. Schools and clubs can partner with Next Era to become Club Advisors and recruit and train students to promote a tobacco-free Louisiana. As your recruited Next Era youth completes program milestones, Next Era partners can earn up to $3,500 that can be used for whatever your school or organization needs.

    Students participating in Next Era will:

    • Develop leadership and activism skills. They may even attend state and national conferences to present their work!
    • Have the opportunity to earn scholarships, awards and community service hours.
    • Be involved in creating real change in their school, community and state.

    For more information on how to bring NextEra to your school, contact Kenyatta Royal, CHES via email at NextEra@lphi.org.

    Take Down Tobacco is a comprehensive youth advocacy training program geared towards middle and high school students, and equips youth with the skills to create change in their communities and to help create the first tobacco- and nicotine-free generation. The program educates and engages young people by providing evidence-based information about tobacco use, including vaping, and courses to develop transferable advocacy skills and tools to equip them with the skills to fight against tobacco and other issues they care about. Each spring, youth advocates raise their collective voice for the Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action by hosting activities and events, advocating to decision-makers, engaging with the media and getting active on social media.

  • Apply for Funding Opportunities

    The Rapides Foundation is a philanthropic organization with the mission to improve the health status of Central Louisiana. The Foundation serves residents in a nine parishes: Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn. Through its Healthy Behaviors Initiative, The Rapides Foundation offers the following grant opportunities that support tobacco prevention and control:

    • The Healthy Behaviors School District Partnership Grant is for public and non-public school districts in the Foundation’s service area. The grant seeks to prevent and reduce tobacco use, substance and alcohol abuse, and overweight/obesity by focusing on implementation of the CDC’s Whole School, Whole Child, Whole Community (WSCC) model and required policy (such as a District/School Wellness policy).
    • The Healthy Behaviors Program Grant is for Section 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations in the Foundation’s service area. The grant supports implementation of evidence-based, community-driven solutions for preventing and reducing overweight and obesity and preventing and controlling tobacco use.

Cessation Resources

The Live Vape Free youth texting program is free and available for teens ages 13 to 17. The program offers multimedia activities that includes videos, quizzes, self-assessments, flip cards and podcasts. The support is text message based and will provide personalized and interactive coaching. Youth will also have access to a personal Quit Coach at any time by texting the word “Coach.” The quit coaches will provide education, tools and guidance to help youth initiate and sustain a quit attempt.

Youth can enroll into the Live Vape Free program by texting “VAPEFREE” to 873373 to get started.

Quit With Us, Louisiana’s Youth Support Program (YSP) through the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline is a behavioral support service tailored to fit the needs and unique challenges faced by youth tobacco users. The Youth Support Program is free for all youth ages 13-17 and serves all types of tobacco users. Youth participants will receive 10 telephone or web coaching sessions. All sessions will be completed with the same quit coach, who is trained in youth support.

Teens can visit www.quitwithusla.org, text “READY” to 200-400, or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to get started!

The National Cancer Institute’s Smokefree Teen is a mobile-based tobacco intervention for youth ages 13-17 who are interested in or actively trying to quit tobacco. Smokefree Teen addresses key barriers and motivators for youth to quit tobacco use of all types and provides evidence-based cessation resources and interventions to help youth initiate and sustain a quit attempt.

Smokefree Teen’s free text message and app programs provide 24/7 tips, advice, encouragement and challenges to help teens become and stay tobacco-free. They include:


  • Public Health Law Center: In an effort to reduce youth tobacco use within school settings, the Public Health Law Center has researched best practices for tobacco-free school policies and has created several resources and policy guides for schools. The Public Health Law Center has also researched best practices for alternative discipline measures and disposing confiscated e-cigarette devices.
  • CDC-Office on Smoking and Health offers 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.
  • Know The Risks: E-Cigarettes and Young People: The 2016 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on E-cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults is the first report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that comprehensively reviews the public health issue of electronic cigarettes and their impact on our nation’s young people. Know The Risks offers facts on e-cigarettes, addiction, risks of use, and how nicotine can harm the developing brain. Additionally, this resource provides resources and actions adults can take to combat and prevent tobacco use among youth and young adults.


1 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

2 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

3 Louisiana Youth Tobacco Survey, 2019. https://wellaheadla.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2019_LYTS_FINAL.pdf

4 https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/youth/index.htm

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