Support for teens

By: 
Alexis Barker

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor

 

According to a recent Prevention Needs Assessment Survey, 33% of Weston County teens surveyed report to have vaped — inhaling and exhaling an aerosol from an e-cigarette or similar device — sometime in their lifetime, while 10% admitted to vaping 10 or more times in the 30 days prior to the survey. 

The Prevention Needs Assessment Survey is conducted during the even years, according to Weston County Community Prevention Specialist Kristi Lipp, who said the survey is given to students in both Weston County school districts in sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grade who are in attendance during the survey. 

According to Lipp, vaping is a problem in communities across the state, and the Wyoming Department of Health reports that 36% of Wyoming high school students and 11% of Wyoming middle school students reported they vaped during the same 2018 Prevention Needs Assessment given statewide. 

In comparison, Lipp said that cigarette use has declined steadily since 2001 when 57% of surveyed students in Weston County reported having never smoked. In 2018, 80% of surveyed students said that they had never smoked in their lifetime and only 7% reported smoking cigarettes in the last 30 days. 

“The really scary thing about vaping is that because it was originally marketed as a smoking cessation tool and as a safer alternative to smoking, there really is a lot of misinformed consumers and parents,” Lipp said. “As you are aware, we are learning every day of more and more negative health effects from vaping and, unfortunately, we have a high population of people, including teens, who are addicted to vaping.” 

Results from the PNA did show that 60% of surveyed teens felt that their parents think it is wrong for someone “their age” to vape, while 37% felt that their friends would think it was wrong for someone “their age” to smoke. 

“Only 26% of surveyed students think that there is a great risk (mental or physical) if someone vapes every day or nearly every day,” Lipp said. 

She noted that reaching these teens and helping the young people in this state to battle the addiction to vaping is essential to curving the growing issue, adding that it is “highly anticipated” that the percentage of use amongst teens will greatly increase when the survey is taken in the spring of 2020, based on national trends and local anecdotal data. 

“It is imperative that we help people battle their vaping addiction and up until the My Life My Quit program came out, we did not have a cessation program that was suited for teens. Now we have one specifically for them,” Lipp said. 

The program Lipp is referring to was launched in December, according to a press release dated Dec. 5 from the Wyoming Department of Health.

“Wyoming teens who want to stop using tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices, are encouraged to enroll in a free program designed just for them and recently made available through the Wyoming Department of Health,” the release states. “The program is offered by the WDH
partner National Jewish Health, the nation’s largest nonprofit tobacco quit line provider. My Life, My Quit is a resource that can help teens quit vaping or using other tobacco products.” 

The program, according to the release, includes “educational materials designed for teens and created with input from teens, subject matter experts and community
stakeholders.” 

“Teens can text or call a dedicated toll-free number (855-891-9989) or can visit mylifemyquit.com for real-time coaching. Through the program, teens work with a coach who listens and understands their unique needs, provides personalized support and helps them build a quit plan,” the release states. 

For adults who want to quit tobacco, the Wyoming Department of Health continues to offer help through the WYoming Quit Tobacco Program. Access to the program, which includes free nicotine replacement therapy and Chantix as well as free phone and online support,
can be found by visiting quitwyo.org or by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW.

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