Wilson partners with Truth Initiative to combat juuling

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Truth Initiative, a DC based nonprofit dedicated to ending tobacco use, has expanded its quit smoking program to e-cigarettes. The new program comes after the U.S. Surgeon General released an advisory declaring youth e-cigarette use an epidemic. Truth Initiative has partnered with Wilson in their new program, giving Wilson its own dedicated phone number.

The partnership was started after Principal Kimberly Martin sent out an email asking parents for help in ending student e-cigarette use. One parent who works at Truth Initiative contacted Martin, and connected Wilson with the prevention program. As part of the partnership, parents, students, and teachers at Wilson wil provide feedback to Truth Initiative about the effectiveness of the program.

The free text program sends people messages encouraging them to stop vaping. An example of a text sent is “Ashley says ‘You can do it we are all in this together.’ You’re not the only one who’s thought about quitting.” The service is not just one-way: students can text the program too. Users are encouraged to text “crave” when they are feeling cravings to vape, and “stress” when they are feeling stressed out. “To-date, we’ve had nearly 30,000 people text in with more than 11,000 of those text coming from teens and more than 11,600 from young adults,” said Sarah Shank, Truth Initiative’s Managing Director of Communications.

Before creating the program, Truth Initiative noticed that though youth e-cigarette use is highly prevalent, there were no resources to help them quit. “This new e-cigarette program provides the much-needed tools to quit vaping before it has the chance to progress into smoking,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative, in a press release.

Along with the texting service, Truth Initiative has created an e-cigarette prevention campaign, titled Safer ≠ Safe. The campaign aims to “give teens and young adults the facts about e-cigarette use and clear up misperception, such as the fact that one standard JUUL pod delivers the equivalent nicotine of a pack of cigarettes,” Shank said.

The number of students who vape has grown significantly in the last year, with 78 percent more high schoolers vaping in 2018 than 2017, and 48 percent more middle schoolers. The rise is largely attributed to the company JUUL labs. “More than 3.6 million youth who use e-cigarettes are now vulnerable to long-term nicotine addiction — largely because of JUUL — and those new young e-cigarette users, most of whom weren’t smokers in the first place, are four times more likely to go on to smoke deadly cigarettes compared to their peers who don’t vape,” Koval said.