Calling It Quits: Resources for Teenagers on Vaping and Nicotine Cessation

Approximately 20% of all youth, about 5 million individuals, use e-cigarettes,  according to the American Lung Association. Although the use of e-cigarettes, also referred to as vaping, has become more common among young people, recent findings on the health effects of vaping have caused some to reconsider their habit. 

After an ongoing outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 2,711 hospitalizations and 60 deaths as of January 21, 2020. While 80% of these cases were from individuals who reported use of THC vaporizer products, the concern around the use of e-cigarettes to consume nicotine remains relevant.

An e-cigarette cartridge containing 0.7 ml with 5% nicotine is roughly equal to the amount of nicotine in a pack of cigarettes.

In January 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a consensus study report that concluded e-cigarettes both contain and emit a number of potentially toxic substances [PDF, 129 KB].

Additionally, e-cigarette cartridges can deliver higher amounts of nicotine than traditional cigarettes, depending on the brand and type of cartridge used. For example, an e-cigarette cartridge containing 0.7 ml with 5% nicotine is roughly equal to the amount of nicotine in a pack of cigarettes. The higher concentration of nicotine can intensify withdrawal symptoms experienced by teenagers in the process of quitting vaping.

“For some, this withdrawal is almost paralyzing,” said pediatrician Dr. Scott Hadland in an interview with The New York Times. They can’t go about their day, can’t go to school — it’s not something I had ever seen with regular cigarettes, it feels different to me as a clinician.”

To understand the health risks associated with vaping and to follow through with the decision to quit e-cigarettes and other nicotine products, teenagers need tools and assistance. The following resources can provide guidance to teenagers, as well as parents, family members, and educators who support them.

Vaping and Nicotine Cessation Resources

Quitting Vaping: Resources for Teenagers

Anxiety, Stress, and Vaping

For teenagers struggling to quit vaping, stress and anxiety can trigger cravings. This article from Smokefree Teen, a resource provided by the National Cancer Institute, provides tips and actionable steps teenagers can take to manage stress and seek support for more serious symptoms of anxiety.

BecomeAnEX Smoker

Developed by Truth Initiative in partnership with the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center, BecomeAnEx is an online community and support system that helps individuals with nicotine cessation, including users of traditional tobacco products and e-cigarettes. In addition to the community function, this resource provides access to tools to create a customized quit plan, interactive guides, and other information about smoking and vaping, and it allows users to sign up for support text messages.

Help! I Want to Quit Smoking!

This article provides an overview of information on how individuals can be successful in quitting smoking, vaping, or using other tobacco products. Created by the American Heart Association, the information page includes organizations, tools, and methods for nicotine cessation. This resource can serve as a starting point for teenagers who are early in the quitting process.

How To Quit Vaping

If a teenager is in the process of assessing why they should quit using e-cigarettes, this step-by-step guide from Smokefree Teen can help them reflect, set a quit date, speak with friends and family for support, and know what challenges to expect when quitting vaping, such as withdrawal symptoms.

Lung HelpLine and Tobacco QuitLine

Individuals who want their questions answered one-on-one by a health care expert can utilize the American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine and Tobacco QuitLine. Users have the option of calling a hotline number or submitting a question online to be answered by the organization’s staff. Experts that can be reached using this resource include registered nurses, registered and certified respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and counselors.

N-O-T: Not On Tobacco

N-O-T is a nicotine cessation program designed specifically for teenagers in the process of quitting vaping or smoking tobacco. N-O-T groups are run by facilitators who have been trained and certified by the American Lung Association. Individuals looking for an in-person program to provide support during the quitting process can use the American Lung Association’s program information page to find a group in their community.

quitSTART

The quitSTART app is a free smartphone app that helps users quit smoking or vaping by providing tailored tips, inspiration, and challenges. Created by the National Cancer Institute, the quitSTART app provides tips and information, allows users to track progress and milestones, play games, and complete challenges as a needed distraction from cravings.

Regional Quitlines

For individuals who want to find regional support, the North American Quitline Consortium’s directory of help lines is a useful resource. Users can click on their location to access hotline numbers and online services for nicotine cessation that are provided by their state. The directory includes resources for the United States and Canada.

SmokefreeTXT for Teens

For some teenagers, interacting through text messaging is more comfortable when seeking help. SmokefreeTXT for Teens, a program run through the National Cancer Institute allows individuals to sign up for a six- to eight-week program in which they receive three to five texts per day offering encouragement and advice. If a teen decides to end the program, they can easily opt out of receiving future messages.

This is Quitting

This is Quitting is a free mobile program from Truth Initiative specifically designed to help young people (ages 13–24) quit vaping. Communicating through text messages, users can sign up for the program and provide their age and quit date to receive tailored messages once per day. Those who are not ready to quit yet can also sign up to receive messages that include words of encouragement, information about the health effects of vaping, and tips for quitting.

Vaping Addiction and Nicotine Withdrawal

For individuals who are addicted to nicotine, quitting vaping can result in withdrawal symptoms ranging from headaches and increased sweating to insomnia and irritability. This resource from Smokefree Teen provides information about what to expect from the withdrawal process, as well as actionable advice on how teenagers can deal with these symptoms in a healthy way.

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Helping Teenagers With Nicotine Cessation: Resources for Parents and Family Members

E-Cigarettes: Talk to Youth About the Risks

This information page created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides an overview about the health effects and risks associated with adolescents using e-cigarettes. Available in both English and Spanish, this resource can serve as a starting point for adults who want to talk to teenagers about this topic.

Facts For Parents About E-Cigarettes & Vaping

Curated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, this fact sheet provides bulleted, easy-to-scan information about vaping and e-cigarette use among teenagers. The organization also provides links to other resources for parents seeking additional information on how to talk to their children about their health.

Helping Teens Quit Smoking and Vaping

Quitting vaping is a process that requires support from friends and loved ones. This resource page from the American Lung Association focuses specifically on how parents can help teenagers quit using nicotine products, including tobacco cigarettes and vaping products.

Is Your Kid Using JUUL? Here’s How You Can Help Them Quit

Truth Initiative provides a variety of resources for education and the prevention of nicotine use. This article offers advice to parents on how they can get educated about e-cigarettes, talk to their teenagers, provide support, and find tools to help young people quit vaping.

Know the Risks: E-cigarettes & Young People

After releasing an official advisory on e-cigarette use among youth in 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create this comprehensive informational website for parents and teenagers. Its resources aim to help families get the facts, know the risks, and take action to prevent e-cigarette use and support teenagers who want to quit vaping.

Teen Smoking: How To Help Your Teen Quit

Authored by The Mayo Clinic, this article provides advice to parents on how to guide their teenagers through the process of quitting vaping or tobacco products. It includes steps to developing a quit plan, as well as talking points parents can use to start a conversation.

The Vape Talk

Is there a difference between an e-cigarette and a vape pen? For parents who are looking for information that starts with an explanation of vaping products and continues with more in-depth information on health concerns and guidance on how to support their children in avoiding or quitting vaping, this website created by The American Lung Association is a beneficial tool.

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Vaping Education: Resources for Educators and Administrators

E-cigarettes and Youth: What Educators and Coaches Need to Know [PDF, 828 KB]

Educators and coaches can have a strong influence on the students they work with, including when it comes to discussions about vaping. This fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights key information adults should know so they can identify when a student might be using e-cigarettes and facilitate meaningful conversations.

E-cigarettes, “Vapes”, and JUULs: What Schools Should Know [PDF, 342 KB] 

Created by The American Lung Association, this fact sheet serves as a primer for educators and school staff on teenagers’ use of e-cigarettes and what can be done at the school level to educate adolescents, to prevent initial use of vaping products, and to support students who are in the process of quitting vaping.

JUUL in School: Teacher and Administrator Awareness and Policies of E-Cigarettes and JUUL in U.S. Middle and High Schools [PDF, 98 KB]

Conducted by Truth Initiative, this national survey of middle and high school teachers and administrators measured e-cigarette awareness, policies, and barriers to enforcement in schools. In addition to the survey, the report also includes insights and recommendations for how schools can address the issue of adolescents using e-cigarettes.

The Real Cost of Vaping

Created in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and hosted by Scholastic’s teacher resources directory, this lesson plan guide provides tools for educators working with students in grades 6–8 and 9–12 to discuss the health risks and other effects of e-cigarette use. The kit includes articles for students to read, activities, and more.

Tobacco, Nicotine and Vaping Lesson Plan and Activity Finder

The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens offers a myriad of resources, including a lesson plan library for educators. The directory includes a section on tobacco, nicotine, and vaping, which provides lesson plans for different age groups ranging from grades 5–8 to grades 9–12.

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