Southwest District Health Unit launches youth vaping cessation program

Southwest District Health Unit, in partnership with National Jewish Health, launched a vaping and tobacco cessation program for teens.

Unlike typical quitlines, My Life, My Quit was designed specifically for teens.

“This comprehensive new program combines the best practices for youth tobacco cessation adapted to include vaping and new ways for teens to reach our quit coaches using real-time text messaging and online chat,” said Thomas Ylioja, clinical director of Health Initiatives at National Jewish Health. “While there are similarities, the teen quit experience is very different from the adult experience. This program allows us to meet teens where they are, communicate with them via channels they are comfortable with and to support them through their quit journey.”

The program is free, anonymous, and teens can sign up for it on their own.

"It's all confidential. It'd be just like our North Dakota tobacco quit line, but it's individualized to them ... They get their own coach and the resources that go with it," said Jennifer Schaeffer, tobacco prevention coordinator at SWDHU.


Teens who want to participate can do so in one of multiple ways.

"They can either come in to us and we can help them get started and registered online, or they can literally text (1-855-891-9989) or call, or be online, or both," Schaeffer said.

Those who sign up can participate in coaching sessions via live text messaging, by phone call or by online chat.

"They have teen-focused messages, and then they get educational materials and encouragement for teens. This is all through focus groups with teens, is how it was created ... They also get ongoing text messages of encouragement throughout the whole quit process," said Danielle Romanyshyn, tobacco prevention coordinator.

Their quit coach will help them in social situations that involve tobacco or vaping and will give them healthy ways to cope with stress.

Though the program does not provide nicotine replacement therapies to teens, for teens who may need short-acting nicotine replacement therapies, Schaeffer said they can obtain those at SWDHU with a parent's signature.

Southwest District Health Unit will be distributing posters to Dickinson's schools to display.

"A lot of the school officials suggested that — and hung some of them up, I believe, in some of the bathrooms and, of course, throughout the schools. That's where the teachers and school officials are seeing or smelling the problem — in the bathrooms," Schaeffer said.


They plan to mention the program as an option for students caught with tobacco.

"We go to all the schools, and we talk to all of the school officials and let them know of our resources, let them know of alternatives to suspension for tobacco, that (Danielle) and I will do classes, that we will do education," she said.

After completing their coaching sessions, students earn a watermarked certificate of completion that can be shown to a school resource officer, parent or juvenile court.

They have already helped two students sign up online this summer.

"It was parents being great parents and noticing that there was a problem and a concern and seeing their child having tobacco products and needing help with that," Schaeffer said.

"We're pretty excited about it because it's very much needed, obviously," she said.

The program is based out of Denver, Colo., and launched July 1 in nine states: Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah.

Kayla Henson is a former Dickinson Press reporter.
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