In South Carolina, 21% of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Vaping harms developing lungs and overall health and may place people at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Now, when protecting lung health is more important than ever, the American Lung Association today announced a broad plan to end youth vaping.
“With kids returning to school soon, more students may experience social pressure to vape, while others may begin to vape in response to stress, including stress related to COVID-19,” said June Deen, the senior director of advocacy for the Lung Association. “We’re already facing what the Surgeon General refers to as a ‘youth vaping epidemic.’ Our communities need support, and as the nation’s trusted champion of lung health, the American Lung Association is proud to offer South Carolina schools, parents and students proven approaches to end youth vaping in our communities and state.”
The Lung Association’s comprehensive plan to end youth vaping encompasses education, advocacy and research, and has four components:
- “Get Your Head Out of the Cloud” public awareness campaign with the Ad Council equips parents with the facts about e-cigarettes and supports conversations before kids start to vape. The campaign includes free educational resources and guides, conversation starters and facts about vaping at TalkAboutVaping.org.
- Vape-Free Schools Initiative to help school administrators and educators address the surge of youth vaping through guidance in implementing a comprehensive tobacco use policy, an alternative to suspension program for students found non-compliant with existing tobacco use policies, as well as offering a voluntary youth-centered tobacco cessation program, including vaping cessation assistance, for youth wanting to quit tobacco use for good. Participating schools will be recognized as part of the American Lung Association Vape-Free Schools Initiative in their communities and with parents and staff.
- Targeted advocacy plan to advance proven e-cigarette policies at local, state and federal levels. A tax increase on all tobacco products to the equivalent of a $1.82 per pack of cigarettes — the national state average — could make a big difference in youth use of these products. Funding levels for tobacco use prevention programs should also be increased to provide more support for schools and communities battling the youth vaping epidemic.
- $2 million research investment to understand the effects of vaping on developing lungs. The organization is also partnering with Northwestern Medicine in a $25 million National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded grant to study the longitudinal lung health of millennials, including the long-term impact of vaping.
For more information about the Lung Association’s work to end youth vaping, visit TalkAboutVaping.org.