A growing national concern for adolescent health is the use of e-cigarettes, often referred to as vaping or JUULing (for a popular brand name). In just a few short years, there has been a dramatic increase in teen use of these devices, and my school is no exception. The latest data from our own YRBS shows an alarming jump in students who reported vaping at least once within 30 days of taking the survey: from 19 percent in 2016 to 42 percent in 2018.
With parents, administrators, teachers and even students looking for valid and reliable sources of information to deal with this epidemic I am delighted that this weeks blog post comes from CATCH, which stands for a Coordinated Approach to Child Health. If you attended a PE/Health conference recently you are likely to have seen a CATCH My Breath booth. Check out their message and links in this post.
The latest data on youth e-cigarette use is beyond troubling – it’s infuriating. In an announcement on November 15th, the CDC reported that more than 3.6 million middle and high school students are now regular e-cigarette users; an increase of 1.5 million in the past year alone. While regulators finally begin to take action limiting youth access, it’s more important than ever that we educate and prepare kids to resist the appeal of these addictive products.
The e-cigarette industry has changed the way that smoking is perceived and discussed in our community. Companies like JUUL Labs have made products sleek and easy to conceal so that their use is almost undetectable unless you know what to look for. In addition to that, the wide-range of flavor options for e-cigarettes, including the ever-popular unicorn vomit, attracts youth to the products en masse. These flavors are just one part of the larger marketing strategy to encourage young people to buy these products.
In late September the FDA conducted a raid of JUUL Labs, who control 72% of the e-cigarette market share, to seize documents related to their research and marketing data. These actions came after a request in April for similar documentation, of which JUUL surrendered more than 50,000 pages. With the rise in JUUL use from 2.2 million devices in 2016 to 16.2 million in 2017, we have to wonder how the increase in sales happen, even though JUUL keeps the stance that they do not want anyone under the age of 18 to use the products.
Prior to JUUL taking over the market, the youth e-cigarette use rate rose 900% from 2011 to 2015 and was only declared an epidemic by the FDA in fall of this year. This development has left many parents, educators, and public health professionals around the country searching for a way to prevent new youth users from picking up the habit.
CATCH My Breath began in 2016 as a response to the spike in the youth use rate. The pilot program was developed by Dr. Steven Kelder at The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) School of Public Health, who served as a senior scientific editor on the 2016 Surgeon General’s Report: E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults. The program is designed to be integrated in a traditional classroom setting for grades 6-12. The curriculum broken into four lessons, each covering topics from the basic components of an e-cigarettes and the contents of “e-juice” to strategies to recognize the different types of marketing campaigns these companies use. The content aligns with National Health Education and Common Core Standards as well as many state-level health education standards.
The program is free and available to any school in the United States thanks to a grant from CVS Health as a part of the Be the First campaign to create the first tobacco-free generation. CATCH My Breath is best practices-based and has been shown to reduce the number of students who choose to experiment with e-cigarettes by as much as 45%.
CATCH My Breath has reached more than 80,000 students in 42 states since its inception, and is slated to be delivered in all 50 states by the end of the 2018-19 school year. To learn more about the program or enroll, please visit: https://catchinfo.org/modules/e-cigarettes/.
As e-cigarette technology has moved quicker than legislation, this is yet another reason for us as #HealthEd teachers to move towards a skill-based curriculum. While the drug of choice will change, the skills needed to make healthy decisions remain the same. Be sure to check out the CATCH My Breath Program and support their efforts.
You might also be interested in the following links:
The SHAPE_America Health Twitter Chat also discussed this topic. You can find the archived tweets here.