CLEVELAND — The number of teens turning to vaping devices continues to soar.
Right now, one-in-five high school students use e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That spike is prompting a new youth outreach program in our state to try and help them quit.
"Vaping is a very scary thing," said Carole Negus.
But that's not how many teens likely see it.
"They're trying to promote it and make it cool and it's an alternative to smoking cigarettes," said Negus.
Negus is the Director of Nursing at Stella Maris, an addiction recovery center in Cleveland.
"I don't think vaping is any different than cigarettes," said Negus. Negus said it's just as easy for young people to get hooked.
"You're waking up the beast of addiction," said Negus.
With 3.6 million middle and high school students now vaping ,according to the CDC, there’s a new push to get people to put down their vape pens.
"The chemicals that are in some of these oils and the things that are being sold - it's not regulated," said Negus.
National Jewish Health partnered with the Ohio Department of Health to launch "My Life, My Quit."
"Almost 90% of adults who use tobacco products of any form started when they were under 18," said Dr. Thomas Ylioja, National Jewish Health.
Dr. Ylioja and his team reached out for teen input during the program design process.
That input revealed the cessation program needed to offer more than just a traditional quit hotline.
"They felt like the quit line itself was too much of an adult-oriented resource," said Ylioja.
Because teens do most of their communicating via text, that's one way they can reach out for help.
"We're teaching teens how to say no when they're presented with a vaping device," said Ylioja.
Young e-cig users in Ohio, along with eight other states, now have access to five coaching sessions, plus additional text messages for support and encouragement to kick the habit.
"We're targeting where the teens are -- they're always on their phone, they're always looking things up," said Negus.
The cessation program for teens to stop vaping comes as public health officials and anti-smoking advocates are growing more concerned about e-cigarette use among young people.
"We don't really have good information yet about what health effects might result from using these products, and that's concerning to everybody," said Ylioja.
"My Life, My Quit" uses the motivational interviewing technique to help teens change habits.
Among adults, there's almost a 40% quit rate.
To reach the "My Life, My Quit" program for youths, text or call 855-891-9989 or visit mylifemyquit.com.