Health Department unveils new program to help young people quit vaping

Photo courtesy of the New York State Department of Health
New texting program encourages young vapers to quit with encouraging messages, skill-building and coping strategies.

Amid the national vaping epidemic, a new program launched in New York encourages young people to text “DropTheVape” to 88709 to get help quitting.

New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker describes vaping, especially among young people, use as a “public health crisis…we must do everything in our power to turn the tide.” 

The program was created in conjunction with the nonprofit national public health organization Truth Initiative, and is specific to New York state. Teenagers, young adults and college students who have previously attempted to quit, or have successfully quit vaping, helped create the program that is targeted at people ages 13-17 and 18-24. However, the program is available to anyone, regardless of their age.

When a person enrolls in the text message program, they receive interactive daily text messages tailored to their sign-up date or their target quit date if they set one. Messages include encouragement, motivation, skill and self-efficacy building exercises and coping strategies.

Messages are available for at least one month if a user does not have a quit date set. If a user sets a quit date, they receive messages for at least one-week prior to the quit date and at least two months following the quit date, which they can change at any time.

Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office

The program also directs users to the New York State “Quitline” where a specially trained coach will assess the type of product they use, the frequency of inhalation and their level of dependence. Based on the assessment, a user may be eligible for complimentary patches, gum, lozenges or a combination of these products. 

This is not Cuomo’s first step to stop the alarming spread of vape usage amongst teenagers. He launched a new campaign with the hashtag #NoVapeNY recently in an effort to ban all flavored nicotine vaping products and prevent youth-directed vape advertisements. 

“The alarming increase in the number of young people using e-cigarettes is proof we need to curb this deadly epidemic before another generation develops lifelong nicotine addictions,” Cuomo said. 

According to the New York State Department of Health, high school use of flavored e-cigarettes has jumped from 10.5 percent in 2014 to 27.4 percent in 2018. Cuomo’s 2021 Executive Budget aims to reverse these trends. The Executive Budget includes proposals like prohibiting the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products, and the sales of tobacco and nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, in all pharmacies; and restricting advertising of vapor products targeting youth, among others.