The best way to stop using nicotine is to never start.
Local schools and Eagle County are rolling out their “Break Up With Nic” campaign in conjunction with the nationwide “Kick Butts Day.” Break Up With Nic encourages students to abandon electronic cigarettes, as well as more traditional tobacco products.
The Break Up With Nic campaign also gives local students — who are supposed to be too young to buy nicotine — a safe place to dispose of nicotine products. Lockboxes will be located at the five recreation centers around the valley, as well as some medical clinics and other locations. Students will be connected to nicotine cessation programs to help them stay off it.
Lilly Reynolds, an Eagle Valley High School senior, told the school board while pitching the program that “Colorado reflects the nation in nicotine use among teens.”
It was down, then vaping happened, and now it’s up.
“We hope to break the cycle of nicotine addiction,” Reynolds said.
Along with health benefits that go with avoiding nicotine, youth will also be entered for prize drawings.
Starting the conversation
Eagle County, Mountain Recreation, Mountain Youth and Eagle County Schools are on board with the program.
This week’s Mountain Youth’s Eat Chat Parent, scheduled for Wednesday, will focus on skills to “Start the Conversation,” providing adults the skills to have conversations with youth about using nicotine products … and why it’s better not to.
To help pay for programs like that, the county and towns around the valley raised their tobacco taxes to $4 a pack at the beginning of 2020. That can push the cost of a pack of cigarettes to $14 in local stores.
The tax is projected to raise around $1 million this year.
Nearly hafl that, $400,000, is earmarked for youth programs.
The cessation sweet spot appears to be one year. About 95 percent of individuals who refrain from smoking for a full year will continue to refrain for at least 20 months, according to a study of 152,000 General Electric employees.
Eagle County, Pitkin County and Boulder County were joined by the city of Denver hitting back against Juul Labs Inc. with a lawsuit against the e-cigarette manufacturer. The Seattle firm handling the suit, Keller Rohrback, represents counties and school districts.
“One of the great public health success stories over the past decade has been a reduction in youth tobacco use and in nicotine addiction,” the lawsuit says.
Youth smoking rates plummeted from 28% in 2000 to 7.6% in 2017. Those gains have been largely reversed by e-cigarettes and vaping, the lawsuit says.
Between 2017 and 2018, e-cigarette use increased 78% among high school students nationwide, from 11.7% of high school students in 2017 to 20.8% of high schoolers in 2018.
“Among middle school students, e-cigarette use increased 48% between 2017 and 2018,” the lawsuit says, citing data from national Monitoring the Future surveys over the past 44 years.
In 2018, 3.6 million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes, an increase of 1.5 million. This record increase was repeated between 2018 and 2019, bringing the number of youth e-cigarette users to over 5 million.
Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was quoted in the lawsuit saying: “The skyrocketing growth of young people’s e-cigarette use over the past year threatens to erase progress made in reducing tobacco use. It’s putting a new generation at risk for nicotine addiction.”