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KY Public Health Officials Launch Teen Vaping Quitline

Kentucky teens' use of vape products is more than double the national rate, according to the 2018 Kentucky Incentives for Prevention survey. (Adobe Stock)
Kentucky teens' use of vape products is more than double the national rate, according to the 2018 Kentucky Incentives for Prevention survey. (Adobe Stock)
November 19, 2019

FRANKFURT, Ky. — Public health officials have launched a free service aimed at helping Kentucky teens quit vaping. The program, called "My Life, My Quit," comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention works to curb a nationwide epidemic of severe lung injury associated with vaping.

Elizabeth Anderson-Hoagland, supervisor of the Health Promotion Program at the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said while states can't compete with the billions of dollars spent on vape-product advertising by e-cigarette companies, she believes parents and communities are starting to take the risks of vaping seriously.

"What we do have, I think, is we do have credibility and we have the best interest of the public in mind,” Anderson-Hoagland said. “Because I don't get paid extra to help someone quit smoking, but we know that someone from an e-cigarette company, they might get paid extra if they get more people using their product."

High school students in the Commonwealth are more than twice as likely as adults to use e-cigarettes such as JUUL, a single pod of which contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of traditional cigarettes. Kentucky is the 13th state in the country to offer a version of the "My Life, My Quit" service.

The push for a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes has stalled.

Anderson-Hoagland pointed to a recent survey that found vaping use among teens in the Commonwealth has skyrocketed within the past few years.

"We had a 200% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students,” she said. “I have never seen an increase in drugs like that - of any drug use - in my history of public health. This is absolutely astronomical."

While the state's main tobacco quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, has been available to kids as young as 12, teens weren't interested in using the program. Anderson-Hoagland noted young people communicate differently than previous generations of tobacco users, and said public health efforts should take that into account.

"And so with this program, we have 'quit coaches' who have been trained specifically to work with teenagers. They understand the language, they understand the motivation,” she said. “We know teenagers are less likely these days to pick up a phone and call someone, so this has an option where you can text to enroll."

Teens who want to stop using e-cigarettes or other tobacco products can text or call the toll-free My Life, My Quit number at 855-891-9989. Support is also available at QuitNowKentucky.org.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY