E-cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery systems, like JUULs, are surging in popularity with youth. The Partnership for a Drug-Free Community is addressing the issue locally through a grant from the Alabama Department of Public Health. The Partnership has been awarded an $87,000 grant to be used for youth tobacco prevention programs in Huntsville, Madison and Madison County, says Candice Dunaway, executive director.
The grant program includes a curriculum developed by Stanford Medical School, which will be taught to local youth in grades 6-12. On Monday, Monitoring the Future, an annual survey of American teenagers’ drug use sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted by the University of Michigan, reported that teen use of e-cigarettes soared in 2018. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trendsstatistics/monitoring-future
The survey, which polls eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders across the country, found the rise in nicotine vaping was the largest spike for any substance recorded by the study in 44 years. The survey also found that many students believe they are vaping “just flavoring.”
In fact, just about all brands include nicotine, and Juul has particularly high levels of it. Currently, some 3.6 million middle- and high-school students are now vaping regularly, according to a CDC study released last month. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6745a5.htm?s_cid=mm6745a5_w
As part of the new tobacco prevention program, Partnership is assembling a youth advocacy team. Applications are being accepted for the Youth Tobacco Initiative (YTI). The group’s first meeting is planned for Jan. 19 at the Partnership office on Clinton Avenue. Partnership is in the process of contacting local school systems to get applications and information about the program to school counselors. Any interested student can download a copy of the application from the Partnership website at http://www.partnershipforadrug-freecommunity.org/youth-tobacco-initiative.html
Dunaway says Ann Marie Martin has been named the project coordinator for the tobacco prevention and control grant. She has previously been communications director for the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, and was a writer and editor with The Huntsville Times. She has worked and volunteered with youth throughout her career. “Smoking and tobacco use in general have been on the back burner for a few years. Now these new nicotine devices have emerged, and we’re seeing deceptive marketing techniques similar to those once used by cigarette makers,” Martin says. “Youth are being lured into thinking these new trendy devices are safe. Our goal is to educate students about the health risks of using devices like JUULs.”