The 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey showed e-cigarette use among middle and high schoolers increased by 48% and 78%, respectively, in just one year. More than 3.6 million youth currently use e-cigarettes. We identified an urgent need to develop an easily accessible, scalable program to help young people quit vaping.
On Jan. 18, 2019, we launched a first-of-its-kind, freely-available quit vaping program grounded in theory-driven and empirically-validated tobacco cessation treatment strategies. The program is entirely text-message based. Young people enroll by texting “QUIT” to a dedicated phone number and responding to an initial age query. Users receive one age-appropriate, personally-tailored message per day. E-cigarette use and abstinence were assessed via text message at 14- and 90-days following an enrollee’s quit date or enrollment date. Program satisfaction was assessed at 14 days.
Between Jan. 18 and Feb. 22, 2019 (first 5 weeks), 13,421 teens and 13,750 young adults (YA) enrolled. The majority set a quit date (teens=69%; YA=74%); the most common quit date was the day of enrollment (44.7%). At 14 days, 60.8% of respondents indicated they had reduced (teen=46.5%; YA=46.5%) or stopped (teen=12.3%; YA=16.0%) using e-cigarettes altogether. Most respondents indicated a desire for additional support, responding that the program should be longer (74.6%). At 90 days, 7-day point prevalence abstinence (ppa) was 24.7% (teen=23.8%, YA=25.7%) and 30-day ppa was 15.5% (teen=15.8%, YA=15.0%).
The high volume of enrollment in a short period of time, high levels of engagement with the program, and e-cigarette reduction and cessation results demonstrate that young people are interested in quitting vaping and can be engaged in an easily accessible, anonymous digital platform.
These results are based on observational data in a population motivated to quit vaping, with a modest response rate at 3 months. However, they signal that a low-barrier text message intervention to promote e-cigarette cessation is desired by and acceptable to young people.