The American Lung Association’s new INDEPTH training program is designed to help schools fight the surging popularity of vaping among teens, emphasizing education over penalties like school suspension.
Young people are taking up vaping at an alarming rate, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, who called the use of e-cigarettes among teens an “epidemic” in a recent advisory. Although disciplinary measures like suspension have a role to play in discouraging vaping at school, the American Lung Association wants to help schools reverse the trend with a new educational program.
“Kids are vaping in the bathroom and classrooms, leaving schools desperate for ways to address this emerging issue, especially in light of recent vaping-related hospitalizations,” said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold Wimmer in a press release announcing the organization’s new interactive program for teens. “As the nation’s premier resource for lung health, the American Lung Association warns the public that e-cigarettes are not safe, and we are providing schools with resources to address this epidemic.”
The Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health (INDEPTH) program will arm teens with information about the risks posed by nicotine use—whether via vaping or more traditional methods like cigarette smoking. The program, which can be taught by instructors trained through an online course, focuses on helping students understand the dangers of nicotine dependence and provides them with healthy alternatives and strategies to quit.
“Each session addresses a different tobacco-related issue and can be facilitated either one-on-one or in a group setting,” the program website states. “The goal of every program is to educate students about nicotine addiction and cravings and ultimately guide them through the process of identifying their own reasons for chewing, smoking, or vaping tobacco products.”
Three-fifths of students who have participated in INDEPTH said they were willing to quit using tobacco after completing the program, the association says.
The program comes at a time of rapid growth in e-cigarette use by teens. According a the Surgeon General advisory [PDF], 3.6 million middle- and high-school students used the devices in 2018, and among high schoolers alone, vaping increased 78 percent between 2017 and 2018. Regulatory efforts are starting to emerge at both the state and federal levels, driven by concerns about the spike in teen use and the health effects of flavored vaping products.
In addition to the new program, the American Lung Association offers the separate Not On Tobacco (N-O-T) curriculum, a cessation program that has a 90 percent success rate, according to the organization.