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TSET helping Oklahoma families and teens fight Big Tobacco | #parents | #teensvaping | #parenting | #parenting | #kids


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

 For 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.

[PHOTO PROVIDED]
[PHOTO PROVIDED]

 “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.

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