Ways for Schools to Support Youth Tobacco Prevention
We cannot end the tobacco epidemic without preventing initiation by young people, whether by vaping, dipping or smoking.1 National, state and local prevention programs have been shown to successfully reduce and prevent youth tobacco product use, especially when implemented together.
Schools can play a vital role in motivating students to live healthy, tobacco-free lives by implementing evidence-based tobacco-free policies, providing tobacco prevention education, and connecting students and staff to available quit support services.
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!
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 start by learning more about e-cigarettes and vapes from the CDC. Take a look at the CDC’s Evidence Brief: Tobacco Industry-Sponsored Youth Prevention Programs in Schools.
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.
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.
- Request a training or presentation by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org—many are even youth-led!
- Use the CDC’s Youth Guide to E-Cigarettes presentation and talking points to give your own training.
- Use the FDA’s The Real Cost of Vaping education series for grades 6-12, or activity packet for students grades 3-5.
- Implement the Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) vape prevention program, CATCH My Breath for grades 5-12.
- Use Stanford Medicine’s Tobacco Prevention Toolkit for middle or high school students.
- Offer the free, self-led Truth Initiative Vaping; Know The Risks interactive-curriculum to students grade levels 8-12.
- Use the ASPIRE curriculum to deliver tobacco prevention education at a self-directed pace to middle and high school teens.
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.
Did You Know?
Friends and family are the top reason why middle and high school students vape. 2 Peers can make an impact on tobacco prevention!
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.