HELENA- A new, free resource is now available, offering support to Montana teens who want to stop vaping or using other tobacco products.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services announced the launch of the “My Life, My Quit” program Monday. It connects Montanans younger than 18 with live coaching and other tailored resources for quitting.
“The number of young Montanans addicted to e-cigarettes is alarming,” DPHHS director Sheila Hogan said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that people under 18 have already been exposed to harmful substances like tobacco, but it’s critical we offer every resource possible to help them quit now to avoid a lifelong addiction.”
Teens can reach My Life, My Quit by texting or calling 1 (855) 891-9989, or online at mylifemyquit.com. They can receive five sessions with a live coach. Leaders say that live interaction will set the program apart.
“They’re actually having that back-and-forth exchange with the coach,” said Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program manager Nicole Aune. “The coach can help them with their triggers, with social situations that they might encounter, and they can walk them through all those steps to successfully quit.”
My Life, My Quit launched July 1 in nine states: Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah. It is administered by National Jewish Health, a Denver hospital specializing in respiratory care – and which already runs Montana’s Tobacco Quit Line.
Aune said Montana leaders asked to be included in the new program. She said it will serve as a valuable addition to current Quit Line services.
“While the Quit Line has been available for youth to use, we’ve seen very few youth actually engage with our Quit Line services,” said Aune. “With this new program, it’s actually meeting the teens where they are at – with their phones and text messaging – so we’re hoping to see that that is a new way of reaching this group and helping them get off of tobacco products.”
While My Life, My Quit addresses all tobacco products, it is specifically aimed at vaping. Last December, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office declared youth e-cigarette use a national epidemic. The National Youth Tobacco Survey found high school e-cigarette use increased 78% from 2017 to 2018.
Health department leaders say e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product for Montana teens. They report almost half of high school students in the state have tried vaping, and nearly a quarter currently use e-cigarettes.
“For youth, we know that e-cigarette use is absolutely not safe,” said Aune.
Aune said most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and some contain especially high concentrations. Reports show teens who use tobacco products before their brains are fully developed are at a higher risk of becoming addicted.
Story by Jonathon Ambarian, MTN News