The FDA launched “The Real Cost” Youth E-Cigarette Prevention Campaign earlier this fall in an attempt to educate kids and teens about the dangers associated with e-cigarettes and vaping. The main message: e-cigarettes, just like traditional cigarettes, put young people at risk for addiction and other health consequences.
According to the campaign, which is an extension of the FDA’s “The Real Cost” campaign to curb tobacco use among youth, more than two million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2017.
Based on those numbers, FDA now believes youth use of e-cigarettes is reaching epidemic proportions.
AARC member Gloria Ayres, BS, RRT, AE-C, TTS, says the campaign can play an important role in curbing those statistics and she encourages her fellow respiratory therapists to get into the act.
Resources are available
“It was important for the FDA to launch this campaign specifically targeting e-cigarette use in kids because use of e-cigarettes is associated with other tobacco products and any form of nicotine is harmful,” said Ayres, who serves as an asthma coordinator at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH. “The campaign can attempt to prevent youth who are thinking about smoking or vaping from experimenting with any form of tobacco products.”
The campaign will specifically target youth through online video ads, additional content on “The Real Cost” campaign’s youth-targeted website, digital and social media materials, and materials for use in high schools throughout the country.
While the main thrust of the campaign is aimed at kids, resources are available for those who work with children and teens as well, and Ayres believes RTs should take advantage of them.
“RTs can tap into the FDA’s campaign resources and use them when interacting with their pediatric patients, especially adolescents and teens,” Ayres said. “RTs interact with this population in inpatient, outpatient, and primary care settings. These are perfect opportunities to provide key messages and education on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.”
She suggests RTs can spread the campaign messages through community outreach efforts, such as school health education programs, as well, and they can advocate for the lung health messages contained in the campaign with local, state, and federal legislators.
“RTs need to include in their important tobacco prevention and cessation messages information about e-cigarettes,” Ayres said. “We can no longer simply ask, ‘do you smoke?’ We need to ask, ‘do you vape or use electronic cigarettes?’”