Chatham schools utilizing new anti-vaping text program ‘This Is Quitting’

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/28/20

In the midst of responding to COVID-19 and campus closures mandated by state government, Chatham County Schools is continuing its push against teen vaping by announcing its partnership with an initiative designed to help youth quit vaping.

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Chatham schools utilizing new anti-vaping text program ‘This Is Quitting’

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PITTSBORO — In the midst of responding to COVID-19 and campus closures mandated by state government, Chatham County Schools is continuing its push against teen vaping by announcing its partnership with an initiative designed to help youth quit vaping.

This Is Quitting (TIQ) is a free text-message program operated by the Truth Initiative, a public health nonprofit focused on, according to its website, “making tobacco use a thing of the past.” Thanks to this partnership, according to a CCS press release, district students will be able to simply text “DropTheHabit” to 88709 and receive support texts to help teens quit vaping.

“This is Quitting allows a teen the opportunity to receive information about vaping and the option to quit on their own terms,” said Rob Schooley, CCS’ instructional program facilitator for student health, physical education and wellness. “This is done confidentially so teens can maintain their privacy.”

Chatham high schoolers have a higher than state- and national-average rate of students using vapor products currently. The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that 22.4 percent of Chatham teens have used vapor products within the last 30 days, compared to 16.9 percent of North Carolina high schoolers and 13.2 percent of high schoolers across the country.

But Chatham students are not alone in their use, and increased use. The CDC reported that the number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes rose from 3.6 million in 2018 to 5.4 million in 2019.

What makes vape products different than normal tobacco oftentimes is the flavoring included in many. While it is now illegal for companies in the United States to produce, sell and distribute several flavors of cartridge-based e-cigarettes, the new e-cigarette rule does not ban flavored vapor liquid for disposable products, creating a loophole teens are already exploiting, according to a Jan. 31 report from The New York Times

Anna Stormzand, a health promotion coordinator for the Chatham County Public Health Department, which is partnering with the district in this effort, told the News + Record in February that the flavoring is the main draw for youth.

“Flavors are what capture kids, especially the younger ones,” Stormzand said. “And they don’t even realize they have a product that has nicotine that’s highly addictive.”

In the press release, she said 90 percent of adult tobacco smokers begin before leaving high school and 99 percent start before turning 20.

“Vaping makes it easier for young people to try smoking,” Stormzand said. “There is now emerging research that shows a link between young people that use e-cigarettes — vape — now and smoking in the future.”

The TIQ program, according to the CCS press release, incorporates messages from other youth who have attempted to or succeeded in quitting vape use.

The CCS press release stated that users including a desired quit date in the text will receive one support text per day for a week both prior to and at least 30 days afterward. Those not ready to establish a quit date will receive at least two weeks of messages aimed at moving toward that end. TIQ participants are able to receive on-demand support for cravings, stress and setbacks, in addition to their scheduled interactive messages. Additionally, materials with the code and contact number have been distributed to schools and community partners.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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