Help Employees Protect Their Kids from E-cigarette Risks

Help Employees Protect Their Kids from E-cigarette Risks

If you thought today’s generation of youth was “nicotine-proofed” from years of successful anti-smoking campaigns, think again. With the youth e-cigarette use reaching Surgeon-General-declared-epidemic levels, now is the time to get smart about e-cigarette risks.

Whether you call it vaping, JUULing, or using an e-cig, the fact remains that e-cigarettes may be safer than cigarettes but are far from safe. The majority of youth e-cigarette users think they vaped only flavoring, not nicotine, the last time they used a product. The truth? 99% of e-cigarettes sold in U.S. convenience stores, supermarkets, and similar outlets in 2015 contained nicotine.

Why e-cigarette risks matter

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. And it’s particularly dangerous for youth and their developing brains. As a parent myself, I know how unsettling these facts are.

Early nicotine addiction can harm brain development and alter nerve cell functioning, especially during early childhood and adolescent stages of development. Young adult e-cigarette users who weren’t smokers in first place are 4X more likely to start smoking cigarettes than their peers who don’t use e-cigarettes.

The younger someone is when they start using nicotine, the harder it is to quit and the more likely they are to become addicted to nicotine or other substances down the road. No one envisions this path for any child, much less their own.

While young e-cigarette users may not be directly on your payroll, they still impact your workforce and your bottom line. Your employees’ children are on their family health plan, and nicotine addiction could translate into higher healthcare costs. Plus, it’s valuable to offer a benefit that supports whole families being free from addiction.

I can speak from personal experience here: having an addict in the home (even and sometimes especially while that person is trying to break the addiction) is stressful and distracting. I’m proud of my brother, who has now been smoke-free for several years and enjoys a healthy and productive life free from addiction.

But getting to this point?

Imagine years of Googling the best treatment options. Phone calls with health care providers. Time out of the office at family therapeutic sessions. Long, sleepless nights awash with worry about someone you love and the future you want for them. Parents are more likely to be focused, less stressed, and productive employees when they have peace of mind about their children.

Resources for families with e-cigarette users

Evidence-based resources to help e-cigarette users of all ages quit and guide their parents in supporting them have been scarce–until now.

The EX Program recently launched a unique set of resources, designed specifically for parents and their children.

  • Support for youth and young adults: Teens (ages 13-18) can now access text messages that provide daily guidance, inspiration, and encouragement throughout their quit journey, tailored to their quit date. For teens to enroll, they simply text DITCHJUUL to 88709.

In addition to text messages, young adult and adult dependents (ages 18-25) in the EX Program, can also receive support through live chat coaching, an online community of current and former e-cigarette users, and free quitting medication.

  • Support for parents: Parents of e-cigarette users can receive 3 weeks of daily text messages about nicotine addiction and advice on how to help their child quit. It’s easy to sign up, super simple to use, and impactful: 93% of parents find the program helpful.

Parents also benefit from 1:1 support from our live chat coaches trained in treating addiction and supporting a loved one, as well as the 24/7 “virtual hug” from our online community called the EX Community.

So, yes, we’ve got a situation on our hands and it’s going to take a lot of different approaches to solve it. The EX Program provides one of them. To learn how the EX Program can help you improve the health of your employees and their dependents, please connect with us to see a demo.

Megan Jacobs, MPH
Megan Jacobs, MPH

Vice President of Product, Innovations

Megan Jacobs is responsible for the design, delivery, and evaluation of innovative digital health solutions at Truth Initiative. Jacobs led the EX Program team responsible for the first evidence-based text messaging program to help e-cigarette users of all ages quit. She formed her expertise in mHealth interventions and public health campaigns with her work at the University of Michigan Health Service, DC Department of Health, and the National Vaccine Program Office. Her public health work over the past 15 years has applied technology to behavior change ranging from adolescent sexual health to vaccinations. Jacobs received her Master of Public Health from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University and is also a graduate of the University of Michigan.

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