[Fairfax, VA] – While it is too soon to know the specific impacts of COVID-19 on people who use e-cigarettes, we do know that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 attacks the lungs and there is growing evidence that vaping can harm lung health overall. This is why it is more important than ever for young people to quit vaping to protect their health. Young people who use e-cigarettes may be vaping even more to cope with stress and social isolation, or they may be experiencing difficult nicotine withdrawal symptoms because of limited access to e-cigarettes.
In light of this vital need, Fairfax County Government and Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) are proud to partner with Truth Initiative to offer its free quit vaping text message program, This is Quitting, designed specifically for teens and young adults. The innovative, first-of-its-kind program was created with input from teens, college students and young adults who have attempted to or successfully quit e-cigarettes. The program is tailored by age group to give appropriate recommendations about quitting vaping.
Since its launch in January 2019, This is Quitting has enrolled more than 206,000 teens and young adults nationwide. Preliminary peer-reviewed data published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research from Truth Initiative show encouraging results, with more than half of users (60.8%) reporting that they had reduced or stopped using e-cigarettes after just two weeks of using the program.
Young people in the Fairfax community who want to quit vaping can enroll in This is Quitting by texting VapeFreeFFX to 88709. Enrolled participants will receive one support text per day prior to and at least 60 days after their quit date. If someone wants to end their relationship with e-cigarettes but is not yet ready to set a quit date, the program will still send at least four weeks of messages focused on building skills and confidence to prepare for quitting. Users can receive on-demand support for cravings, stress, slips, and a desire for more tips or inspiration in addition to their scheduled interactive messages. Upon completion of the program, users will receive periodic text messages and may continue to use supportive keywords for as long as needed.
“Scientists continue to study the long-term impacts of vaping, but we know that the brains of adolescents continue to develop until about the age 25 and that nicotine can have harmful effects, including on abilities to learn, control impulse, and attention,” said Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, Health Director for Fairfax County. “Now, with evidence that vaping may be linked with worse outcomes of COVID-19 infection, it’s more important than ever that we offer solutions to help young people.”
“In the 2019-20 school year, we saw 697 students for tobacco-related substance abuse. If school buildings had not closed in March due to COVID-19, that number would have likely been higher," said Stefan Mascoll, coordinator, FCPS Student Safety and Wellness Office. "We are committed to supporting students on their journey to become vape free and believe This Is Quitting is a critical part of that process."
“Since I started working with Fairfax County, I knew the This is Quitting program was truly going to be game changing,” said Sid Thakker, a student consultant to the implementation team. “As a senior in high school, I know students aren’t given much information on treatments if they are addicted, but the program is the perfect mix of creative treatments and advice. I am excited to see the impact it will make in FCPS.”
This collaboration comes as more young people are expressing their desire to quit vaping entirely, with some citing the coronavirus outbreak as their motivation.
“Overcoming nicotine addiction is difficult to begin with, under normal circumstances, and stress and anxiety are often triggers to smoke or vape, especially during uncertain times,” said Dr. Amanda Graham, Chief of Innovations at Truth Initiative. “Many young people now want to quit more than ever, and This is Quitting can help them get support quickly, discreetly and anonymously, wherever they are.”
Flyers and palm cards with the text code and number will be distributed to schools and other community partners across Fairfax County who engage with youth and young adults. For more information about This is Quitting in Fairfax and to find promotional materials, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/livehealthy/tobacco-free/vape-free-fairfax.
About Truth Initiative
Through its digital quit-smoking programs This is Quitting, BecomeAnEX, and the EX® Program Truth Initiative has a long history of innovation around developing engaging and effective quit programs and has helped more than 800,000 adult users on their journey to quit. Parents of young people who vape can also get support at www.BecomeAnEX.org. Employers, health systems and health plans can learn more about the EX Program, a quit-smoking and vaping service for employers at www.theexprogram.com.
Youth Vaping in Fairfax County
- According to the 2018 Fairfax County Youth Survey of 8th, 10th and 12th grade students, more than one-fourth of the students (27.9%) reported vaping at least once in their lifetime.
- Ranges from 15.1% of 8th grade students to 39.3% of 12th grade students
- One in five students (19.8%) reported vaping in the past month.
- Nicotine was the most common substance inhaled through vaping in the past month (16.7%), followed by flavoring only (10.3%) and marijuana (8.0%).
- Fairfax County youth were more likely than their peers nationally to report vaping nicotine and marijuana in the past month.
Source: 2018 Fairfax County Youth Survey