Why e-cigarette use matters
As you’ve probably seen by now in the news, vaping rates among teenagers are increasing at an alarming rate. From 2017 to 2018, e-cigarette use among high school students increased a whopping 78%! In 2019, 27.5% of high school students—more than 1 in 4—are vaping.
E-cigarette use among middle school students also jumped 48% from 2017 to 2018. And, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, e-cigarette use among 18-24-year-olds increased 60% from 2017 to 2018.
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 (most likely) on their family health plan, and nicotine addiction could translate into higher healthcare costs.
In fact, young adult e-cigarette users who weren’t smokers in the first place are four times more likely to start smoking cigarettes than their peers who don’t use e-cigarettes. We all know the healthcare costs associated with smoking, so this isn’t an issue to take lightly.
This urgency is amplified even further by the vaping-related lung illnesses and deaths that you’ve likely been reading about in the news. As of early October, more than 1,200 lung injury cases and 26 deaths have been reported to the CDC, the vast majority among young people. According to Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, “it is not yet possible to tell whether the illness comes on quickly or is the cumulative effect of long-time vaping.”
One more fact: according to research conducted by Truth Initiative, almost 75% of parents indicated that they received no communication from their child’s school regarding e-cigarettes. So, many parents with kids who vape (your employees!) are flying blind when it comes to supporting their own children who might be vaping.
Here’s the rub for you: these parents (again, your employees) can be distracted while at work dealing with the issues that come along with teens who are vaping, affecting their performance and productivity.
Be proactive in helping parents with kids who vape
As a result of these trends we’re seeing, some companies are beginning to offer a new kind of benefit: virtual support to parents with middle school, high school, and college-aged kids who vape.
This new benefit offers evidence-based resources to help e-cigarette users of all ages quit and guide parents who support them.
For example, some programs—like the EX Program—offer support to parents with kids who vape (your employees) via text. With a few simple clicks, employees can sign up for daily text messages to understand vaping and nicotine addiction and how to recognize it, and advice on how to help their child quit. According to the feedback we’ve heard from parents so far, 93% find the program helpful!
Parents with kids who vape can also access one-on-one digital coaching support, making it easy to connect with treatment experts.
According to our research, among those who used live chat to receive support last year, 32% of folks were between the ages of 45-64 and 27% were ages 31-44. What’s more, these live chat coaches are trained specifically in treating addiction and supporting loved ones. So, not only can they provide quick responses to common questions from parents about vaping, these coaches also have a deep level of knowledge and experience in the addiction world to inform their guidance.
Another unique aspect of this emerging benefit: parents, young adults and adult dependents can also receive support by participating in online communities of current and former e-cigarette users. E-cigarette users often describe quitting vaping as a very socially isolating experience, that few people in their circle of friends and family understand. 24/7 support from people who “get it” can be a powerful part of their success.
Common questions within these groups include “how do I get my teen to stop vaping?” and “how do I help my recovering son/daughter quit vaping?”. You can see for yourself how active, supportive and helpful these groups are.
This virtual support is part of another progressive benefit some companies now offer: a digital tobacco cessation program. These programs—like the EX Program—offer quit support to employees and, just as importantly, dependents, ages 18-25, who smoke, vape, and chew tobacco.
Because vaping is impacting both teens and young adults as well as their parents, as they may worry about the health effects of nicotine addiction, this emerging benefit is definitely something to keep your eye on. And, as vaping rates continue to rise among the younger demographic, digital support and outreach could become a valuable piece of your evolving benefits package.