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NY program aims to help young people quit vaping

NYS Department of Health

New York state is expanding a program meant to encourage teens and young adults to quit vaping.

The number of teen smokers in New York state has dropped dramatically. But according to State Health Department figures, almost 19% of New York state high schoolers are becoming addicted to nicotine through another route: vaping.

That’s disturbing to people like Kristen Richardson, Director of the Central New York Regional Center for Tobacco Health Systems.

"Youth who are using e-cigarettes are about four times more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes than their peers who don't vape," Richardson said. "And that nicotine exposure often leads to addiction and primes that young brain for other addictions, including subsequent addictions to things like opioids."

Richardson is hoping a state program called “Stop the Vape” can help end the cycle of addiction. It reaches teens and young adults with tips and support about quitting via text.

"They get a message daily," Richardson said. "They're tailored to their age group. So there's messages specific for 13 to 17 and then 18 to 24 year olds which give that age-appropriate quitting recommendations. And also in addition helps folks set a target quit date. If they choose to, the messages have encouragement, motivation, tips."

For example it suggests to someone trying to quit, to keep their hands busy with stress balls, paper clips, or anything other than an e-cigarette. New York state is now offering program materials to schools and programs that target young adults.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.