CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – In West Virginia, 35.7% of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
According to the American Lung Association, 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 ALA has announced a broad plan to end youth vaping.
“As we prepare for the school year to resume, 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 American Lung Association Division Senior Director State Advocacy-Eastern Lance Boucher. “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 West Virginia schools, parents and students proven approaches to end youth vaping in our communities and state.”
According to a press release, the ALA’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: The campaign equips parents with the facts about e-cigarettes and support conversations before kids start to vape. The campaign includes free educational resources and guides, conversation starters and facts about vaping.
- Vape-Free Schools Initiative: This would 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, 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: This would advance proven e-cigarette policies at local, state and federal levels, including increasing funding for comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs and protecting the ability of local communities to enact local smokefree air laws.
- $2 million research investment: This will help with understanding the effects of vaping on developing lungs. The organization is also partnering with Northwestern Medicine in a $25 million National Institutes of Health-funded grant to study the longitudinal lung health of millennials, including the long-term impact of vaping.