Welcome to the Tobacco Prevention Committee
Youth Vaping, Mental Health, and the Importance of Quitting
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, depression and anxiety in youth have increased. 1 in 5 high school students vape, and nearly 40% of them vape frequently. The Truth Initiative sat down with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing to discuss e-cigarette use among youth, youth mental health, and why it’s important youth quit using e-cigarettes. Here are the highlights of what The Truth Initiative learned:
- A poll conducted by Morning Consult revealed that 73% of parents agree COVID-19 has affected the mental well-being of their K-12 children.
- Youth and young adults with mental health and substance use challenges are more susceptible to trying e-cigarettes due to believing the marketing by tobacco companies that these devices are safer than traditional cigarettes.
- The brain is still developing until age 25 and nicotine exposure through using e-cigarettes can impact brain development.
- Individuals experiencing mental health challenges, such as depression or anxiety, are twice as likely to have tried e-cigarettes and three times more likely to be e-cigarette users.
- Youth can text “Start My Quit” to 36072 for free, confidential My Life, My Quit coaching.
- The National Council for Mental Wellbeing and the National Behavioral Health Network for Tobacco and Cancer Control have many resources available for providers and youth-serving stakeholders. View the full article below for more information on Mental Health First Aid quitting resources.
Tobacco Related Health Inequities
Big Tobacco companies utilize point of sale marketing (such as where tobacco retailers are located and how tobacco products are advertised) to target and pressure consumers based on characteristics like race, ethnicity, income, mental health status, gender, and sexual orientation.
Targeted marketing and variations in local and state policies regulating tobacco retailers contribute to the inequities consumers experience in the retail environment. The number of tobacco retailers tends to be higher in neighborhoods with a higher proportion of residents of color and a higher proportion of residents with a lower socioeconomic status. In areas where more tobacco retailers are present, it is easier to access tobacco products and tobacco products tend to be cheaper.
Residents of underserved communities may be more likely to use tobacco products due to experiencing inequalities such as income, poverty level, racism, increased stress levels, housing instability, and lack of access to quality education. The combination of chronic stress and higher rates of exposure to tobacco marketing have been found to lead to greater tobacco use and future health harms.
Communities can work to counter Big Tobacco point of sale marketing by implementing evidenced based policies and practices at tobacco retailers. Theses efforts can help to counter Big Tobacco’s use of place, price, product, and promotion to target specific communities.
Empower Tusc’s Health Equity Workgroup
Empower Tusc has partnered with the Tuscarawas County Health Department to develop a health equity workgroup that will implement a five-year strategic plan to target tobacco-related inequities. The workgroup is working to increase tobacco prevention, cessation, and control efforts across the lower position of Tuscarawas County, specifically in the Twin Cities and Newcomerstown. The planned initiatives include youth education on the harms associated with vaping, parent education through mass media campaigns, increasing community knowledge on the issue of tobacco use, increasing availability and accessibility to treatment resources, and school staff education through the American Academy of Pediatrics Ask, Counsel, and Treat (ACT) training.
The following data was obtained from the 2018 Tuscarawas County Community Health Status Assessment (CHA). The CHA provides an overview of health-related data for Tuscarawas County adults (ages 19 and older) and youth (ages 12-18) who participated in a county-wide health assessment from January – May 2018.
- 5% of Tuscarawas County youth were identified as current smokers, increasing to 12% of those ages 17 and older.
- The most common forms of tobacco products used were e-cigarettes/Vapes/Juuls, followed by cigarettes, Black and Milds, and chewing tobacco.
- More than half (55%) of youth reported being exposed to secondhand smoke.
- 63% of youth identified as current smokers were also current drinkers.
- 1 in 5 Tuscarawas County adults were identified as current smokers.
- The most common forms of tobacco products used were cigarettes, e-cigarettes/Vapes/Juuls, cigars, and chewing tobacco.
- 88% of Tuscarawas County adults believe secondhand tobacco smoke is harmful to them and their family’s health.
- 46% of Tuscarawas County adults believe that e-cigarette vapor is harmful to themselves and 38% believe that e-cigarette vapor is harmful to others.
Behaviors of Tuscarawas County Youth
Current smokers vs. non-current smokers*
*Current smokers indicate youth who self-reported smoking at any time during the past 30 days.
Note: Caution should be used when interpreting subgroup results as the margin of error for any subgroup is higher than that of the overall survey.
Smoke-Free Living: Behaviors and Milestones
According to the American Heart Association and the U.S. Surgeon General, this is how your body starts to recover after quitting:
- In your first 20 minutes after quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike.
- After 12 hours of smoke-free living, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal.
- After 2 weeks to 3 months of smoke-free living, your circulation and lung function begin to improve.
- After 1 to 9 months of smoke-free living, clear and deeper breathing gradually returns as coughing and shortness of breath diminishes; you retain the ability to cough productively instead of hacking, which cleans your lungs and reduce your risk of infection.
After 1 year, your excess risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by 50%.
- After 5 years, your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Your risk of cervical cancer and stroke return to normal.
- After 10 years, you are half as likely to die from lung cancer. Your risk of larynx or pancreatic cancer decreases.
- After 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker’s.
Source: American Heart Association, Your Non-Smoking Life, Updated on April 20, 2017.
Tips for Parents
Be Part of the Solution!
Whether you are a parent, aunt, uncle, teacher or friend of a teen you can be a strong influence in shaping teens’ attitude about tobacco use. Here are some tips on how you can help!
- Model tobacco/nicotine free living! Research tells us that children and teens who have parents who used tobacco/nicotine are twice as likely to use tobacco as well. (1)
- Talk to your teen about tobacco/nicotine use. Let them know its ok to ask questions and discuss their feelings. It’s important to continue these conversations as your teen grows. (2)
- Discuss ways to respond to peer pressure to us tobacco/nicotine. Encourage them to say no but also offer alternative responses such as, “It will make my clothes and breath smell bad” or “I don’t like the way it makes me look.”
- Educate them on the short term and long-term effects of tobacco/nicotine use. (3)
- Set firm boundaries about tobacco and nicotine use, and explain why.
- Encourage kids to get involved in healthy activities that do not involve tobacco/nicotine.
- Self-confidence is a teen’s best protection against peer pressure. Let them know you value their opinion and emphasize what they are doing right.
- Encourage your teen to walk away from peers who don’t respect their reasons for not using tobacco/nicotine
- Be informed! Keep up with usage trends and what to look for. Communicate with other care givers and local educators to know what teens in your area are using. (4)
Words to Know
- Lighting up
- Cancer sticks
- Fresh leaf
- Tear drop
- Cloud chasing
- Dab pen
- Ride the mist
Warning signs of tobacco/nicotine use:
- Low energy
- Anxious and irritable behavior
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor performance
- Changes in choice of friends
- Warning signs of cigarette use:
- Cigarette smell
- Bad breath
- Yellow teeth and fingers
- Chronic cough
- Short temper
Warning signs of vaping use:
- Increased thirst
- Nose bleeds
- Cutting back on caffeine
- Increased acne
- Finding pens that aren’t really pens or unfamiliar items that look like a USB drive
- Unexplained sweet scent
- Finding discarded JUUL pods
Parental Tool Kits
The best prevention of youth substance abuse comes through parental conversations. Learn how to properly educate your children about the dangers of substance abuse. After all, if they don’t learn about substance abuse from you, they’ll learn about it from someone else. Take control of the situation and talk to your kids today!