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TSET Helping Oklahoma

Families and Teens Fight Big Tobacco

Tobacco Stops With Me provides teens,
parents and schools resources needed
to live tobacco and vape free.

F

or two decades, Oklahoma and
the rest of the nation made
great progress in reducing teen
smoking and tobacco use. Since
2003, the teen smoking rate in
Oklahoma has dropped from 26.5%
to 9.1%.

Today, the vaping epidemic puts all
that progress at risk. More than 1 in
4 Oklahoma teens report vaping, a
rate of use that has skyrocketed in
just three years.
Tobacco Stops With Me, a program
of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement
Endowment Trust (TSET), launched
in 2008 to educate Oklahomans
about the dangers of tobacco use
and secondhand smoke. Tobacco
Stops With Me has also educated
the public on raising the tobacco
purchase age from 18 to 21, which
became federal law in December
2019. Oklahoma passed similar
state regulations in May 2020. For
several years now, Tobacco Stops
With Me has also informed parents,
educators and the public about the
dangers of vaping.
Amy Cohn, Ph.D., associate
professor of pediatrics at the OU
College of Medicine and faculty
member at the TSET Health
Promotion Research Center, studies
the effects of vaping.
Contrary to what many young people
believe, the vapor produced from
e-cigarettes is not water droplets
– it is an aerosol composed of
poisonous and addictive chemicals.
Big Tobacco has also engineered
the products to make the habit
hard to break. Cohn cautions that
while research on e-cigarettes has
revealed that they may be less
harmful than cigarettes, that doesn’t
make them harmless.
“Tobacco companies want to get
you hooked on their products. So,
whenever you use their product,

they want to make you a repeat
customer,” Cohn said. “They do that
by putting nicotine in their products
and making their packaging colorful
and bright. So, your destiny is out of
your hands once you start.”
Recognizing the unique health
challenges facing today’s kids,
the TSET Healthy Youth Initiative
launched in June 2020. The program
is tailored for teenagers and focuses
on teaching them about the dangers
of vape use and other health threats.
Jeff Jordan, president and executive
creative director of Rescue Agency
and an expert in youth health
interventions, explained why kids
might take up vaping.
“Teens are looking for low-risk ways
to ‘rebel,’ ” Jordan said. “Some
stay out late. Others try alcohol or
marijuana. And many teens think
that vaping is a low-risk way to
participate in a rebellious activity
that bonds them with their friends.
Interestingly, most teens have
accepted the message that cigarette
smoking is an unacceptable risk;
they don’t know enough about
the harm that vaping can cause to
reject it.”
Teens can learn more by visiting
the TSET Healthy Youth Initiative
website: TSETHealthyYouth.com.
Many teens in Oklahoma have
already tried vaping, and some
are unable to quit due to the high
amount of nicotine packed into these
products. When the developing
brain is exposed to nicotine, it
creates receptors that can have
lifelong effects and increase nicotine
cravings, ultimately making it even
harder to stop. That’s why TSET
recently brought My Life My Quit, a
national youth cessation network, to
Oklahoma. Oklahomans between the
ages of 13 and 17 who are already
tobacco or vape users can receive

text-based cessation coaching.
By visiting MyLifeMyQuit.com
or texting “Start My Quit” to
855-891-9989, teens can connect
to free live texting and web chat
support personalized for them. The
services are confidential and do
not provide nicotine patches, gum
or lozenges. TSET also funds free
quit services and resources for
Oklahomans 18 and older through
the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at
OKhelpline.com or 1-800-QUIT
NOW.
Tobacco Stops With Me offers
a number of health education
materials for parents and schools
to promote tobacco-free lifestyles
in youth. Through social media,
TV, radio, print, blogs and more,
Oklahomans have access to the

latest data, resources and health
facts to support a healthier,
tobacco-free state. Posters and
fact sheets are available for free at
StopsWithMe.com. By logging on
to the website, Oklahomans can
stay informed about the tobacco
industry’s latest tactics to hook
teens. The website also offers tips
for meaningful conversations with
youth about the dangers of tobacco
use and vaping.
TSET and Tobacco Stops With
Me are committed to helping
Oklahomans build better lives
through better health. Learn more at
StopsWithMe.com.

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