Free Text Message Program Is Latest Proposal in Governor's Statewide Campaign to End Youth Vaping
Program Aimed at Combatting Alarming Rise in Youth Vaping
Text "DropTheVape" to 88709
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State is now offering a free text message program to help kids quit e-cigarettes as the state moves to reverse the alarming rise in youth vaping. Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker unveiled this initiative yesterday at a #NoVapeNY rally along with the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, New York State PTA and Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes at the Wheatley School, a public high school in Old Westbury, Long Island. It is the latest action in the Governor's statewide campaign to end vaping among high school students.
"The alarming increase in the number of young people using e-cigarettes is proof we need to curb this deadly epidemic before another generation develops lifelong nicotine addictions," Governor Cuomo said. "That's why we're taking bold and aggressive actions to ban all flavored nicotine vaping products, end these unscrupulous vaping advertisements aimed at our kids, and offer teens a simple way to get help quitting vaping."
The State Department of Health partnered with Truth Initiative, a nonprofit national public health organization committed to making tobacco use a thing of the past, to create a NYS-specific version of their text-based intervention, "This is Quitting." To access this program, users simply need to text "DropTheVape" to 88709.
This innovative and free text message program was created with input from teenagers, college students and young adults who have attempted to, or successfully, quit vaping. It is tailored to specific age groups (13-17 and 18-24) to give appropriate quitting recommendations.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "The disturbingly high level of e-cigarette usage by young people is nothing short of a public health crisis, and we must do everything in our power to turn the tide. This new program is a valuable resource and we urge everyone to Drop the Vape, starting with a simple text that could ultimately save their lives."
Upon enrolling in the text message program, users receive interactive daily text messages tailored to their sign-up date or their target quit date, should the user choose to set one. Messages include encouragement, motivation, skill and self-efficacy building exercises and coping strategies. Messages are available for at least one month if a user does not have a quit date set. If a user sets a quit date, they receive messages for at least one-week prior to the quit date and at least two months following the quit date, which they may change at any time. The program also directs users to the New York State Quitline, which recently added free quit-coaching and nicotine replacement therapy for eligible users of e-cigarettes to address the growing need to help them break their dependence on vaping.
Last week, Governor Cuomo launched a new campaign in support of his FY 2020-21 Executive Budget proposal to ban all flavored nicotine vaping products, including menthol flavors, and to restrict vaping advertisements aimed at youth. The Governor's proposed legislation would also authorize the Department of Health to regulate the sale of vaping product carrier oils deemed to be a public health risk. The legislation would also prohibit the online, phone and mail order sale of e-cigarettes; only registered retailers would be allowed to purchase e-cigarettes using those methods. The campaign includes a new hashtag - #NoVapeNY - as well as a petition where New Yorkers can show their support for the legislation and a new website - ny.gov/endvaping - with more information about the proposals.
According to Department of Health data, nearly 40 percent of 12th grade students and 27 percent of all high school students in New York State are now using e-cigarettes, and this increase is largely driven by flavored e-liquids. High school use in 2018 (27.4%) is 160 percent higher than it was in 2014 (10.5%). While New York's high school student cigarette smoking rate dropped from 27.1% in 2000 to a record low of 4.3% in 2016, aggressive marketing strategies promoting flavored e-cigarettes is primed to reverse that trend.
Steve Chassman, Executive Director, Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, said, "The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) is proud to stand with Governor Cuomo's office and NYS Commissioner of Health, Dr. Howard Zucker, as we work collectively to ban hazardous vaping products that are clearly targeting underage youth and producing devastating effects to the health and wellness of our young people."
Lorey A. Zaman, NYS PTA President, said, "We stand committed to supporting children, families and schools through this vaping epidemic. NYS PTA will continue to educate on the harms of youth vaping, and advocate to ban the marketing and sale of all flavored e-cigarettes and flavored e-liquids, including menthol. Together, we will make every child's potential a reality."
Meredith Berkman and Dorian Fuhrman, co-founders of Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes (PAVe), a national grassroots group founded as a response to this adolescent public-health crisis, said, "We're grateful that Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Zucker are committed to finding creative solutions like "Drop the Vape" to help the many thousands of New York teens suffering from severe nicotine addiction as a result of the youth vaping epidemic. We're an army of MOMvocates fighting to protect our kids from the predatory behavior of Big Tobacco and the dangers of flavored e-cigarettes. We applaud Governor Cuomo, New York's DADvocate-in-chief, for instinctively understanding the urgency of this issue for New York's families making the #NoVapeNY campaign a top priority."
Remember, to access this program, simply text "DropTheVape" to 88709.
For more information about e-cigarettes, visit: www.health.ny.gov/NoVape