Trying to quit using e-cigarettes can be hell, according to a recent USA Today story about vaping.
Due to the addictive nicotine in most e-cigarettes, this insight might not surprise you. What is startling: the surging uptick in the use of electronic cigarettes—also known as JUUL, vaporizers, or e-cigarettes—across the U.S.
While e-cigarettes may promote smoking cessation, they may also promote smoking initiation. Though safer than cigarettes, we know e-cigarettes are still not safe—especially for teens and young adults.
What to know about e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products because most of them contain nicotine, which comes from tobacco. The nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive. Nicotine and other chemicals in e-cigarettes are known to damage health.
Once an e-cigarette user starts with one form of nicotine, it can be an easy transition to seek it out in other harmful forms, like cigarettes. In fact, young adults who use e-cigarettes are more than 4 times as likely to begin smoking tobacco cigarettes within 18 months compared to their peers who do not vape.
Introducing the first evidence-based program to help e-cigarette users quit
To address vaping among people of all ages, we released the first-of-its-kind, evidence-based e-cigarette cessation program this month.
Created with input from young people and adults alike, our program addresses results from our own research with e-cigarette users, which showed:
- Most find it more difficult to quit than expected.
- Quitting can be an overwhelmingly isolating experience, as there are limited cessation resources specific to e-cigarettes.
- Many are open to using quit medication (even if they were not open to quit medication for quitting cigarettes).
Our cessation support for e-cigarettes is a dynamic text messaging-based program. Support is tailored by age group (teens, young adults and adults) and quit status to give appropriate recommendations about quit medications and quitting strategies.
Teens (ages 13-17) who vape receive text message-only support. Through the EX Program, young adults (ages 18-24) and adults who use e-cigarettes receive customized support through text messages as well as email, live chat coaching, an online community, quit medication, and website content. This program also supports parents who are helping their children quit e-cigarettes. Through the EX Program, for example, parents can live chat with EX Coaches for support on how to help someone who vapes quit.
The power of text messaging
Text messaging plays a key role in our cessation support for e-cigarettes because it is a proven, powerful strategy to boost treatment adherence and deliver health behavior change interventions.
As proof, the U.S. Community Preventive Services Task Force added text messaging to its list of recommended treatments for smoking cessation in 2011. Plus, text messaging is already one of the most popular forms of delivering smoking cessation interventions across all age groups, as evidenced by the National Cancer Institute’s SmokeFreeTXT programs.
In line with these credentialed programs, our text-based e-cigarette cessation program is backed by science and powered by people. We created the program with an evidence-based approach of using text messages to quit tobacco products, including messages that are written by others who have quit before and who know what it is like to go through the quitting process.