Helping Students Avoid Vaping and Nicotine Addiction
As educators, you know that National Health Education Week is a good time to focus on issues that affect the health of our nation’s youth. One important concern is the threat that vaping nicotine poses to middle and high school students. Vaping can put students at risk for nicotine addiction, harm developing brains, and influence their performance at school.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products takes this issue seriously and prioritizes efforts to educate teachers, parents, health care providers, and youth about the dangers of youth vaping.
One such effort FDA just launched is an online resource center of science-based, standards-mapped materials that teachers can use to help their students avoid vaping and nicotine addiction. The Vaping Prevention and Education Resource Center was created with the students’ health and teachers’ specific needs in mind.
Vaping Nicotine Harms Youth
In 2022, the National Youth Tobacco Survey found found that 2 million youth use e-cigarettes—also known as vapes. Many of these students vape every day. Vaping puts youth at risk for serious and lasting health consequences.
Teens’ brains are still developing, which can make it easier for them to get addicted to nicotine. Vaping may negatively affect a teen’s attention, learning, and memory by promoting addiction to nicotine. They may also experience coughing, wheezing, vomiting, headaches, and dizziness from vaping.
Teachers Can Guide Students Toward Healthy Choices
You’re in a great position to help youth make healthy choices. FDA research suggests that when teachers talk with students about the health consequences of vaping, they may be less likely to vape. You don’t have to be an expert on tobacco products to make a difference.
Talking with students about vaping and tobacco use requires credible, effective resources you can rely on. Considering this fact, FDA developed the Vaping Prevention and Education Resource Center to help you learn about youth vaping and confidently talk with students about the risks and harms.
Start an Open Dialogue About Vaping and E-Cigarettes
Thenew resource center features numerous age-appropriate, cross-curricular resources for teachers and parents to promote learning and begin having open conversations about youth vaping and tobacco use.
In addition to content designed for teachers, FDA also developed materials for parents and teens. All content at the hub is free, easy to navigate, and optimized for each audience.
- Teachers will find lesson plans, interactive tools, infographics, and videos with tobacco facts and tips about how to teach teens about the dangers of e-cigarette use.
- Parents will find fact sheets, videos, and resources to help them understand and recognize vapes, talk with their children, and keep the conversation going over time.
- Students will find real-life stories and relatable content to help them understand vaping, nicotine addiction, common myths about e-cigarettes, and how to say no to vaping.
FDA Listened to Teachers to Understand Their Needs for Tobacco Education
FDA launched this new hub of materials after listening to middle and high school teachers and carefully researching their needs. FDA used proven research methods to talk with teachers, collect and analyze their feedback, and evaluate the range of tobacco education materials available to educators across the country.
To make sure we were getting the best information from a wide range of teachers, FDA:
- Conducted a comprehensive needs assessment of state-level tobacco policies, health education standards, and available tobacco-use prevention curricula.
- Hosted 18 online focus groups with 91 health educators representing 28 states to understand how to expand FDA tobacco education resources to meet teachers’ needs.
- Fielded an online survey with 434 middle and high school educators to assess their use of and experiences with FDA’s tobacco education materials.
- Analyzed participant feedback using reliable research tools to assess findings.
This work was invaluable to FDA’s understanding of how to help teachers counsel youth about vaping and nicotine addiction. The research also spotlighted the types of resources teachers say are most effective in their work.
What FDA learned helped the agency recognize that teachers need:
- Training and professional development opportunities that are free, short, and interactive. Educators place great value in hands-on lessons, activities, and quizzes.
- Science-based, standards-mapped classroom resources that align with National Health Education Standards.
- Easy-to-access best practices and curricula for youth tobacco education that have been vetted by experts and proven effective.
- Youth-specific cessation materials and educator training.
- Spanish-language materials to help broaden the reach of youth tobacco education, especially in Title I and urban schools.
On top of this, FDA’s research showed it’s important to provide materials with real-life stories and a mature tone that students can relate to. Another common theme was a need for tailored leveling to ensure materials are flexible and useful for a range of reading levels, English-language proficiency, and students’ abilities.
FDA’s research was both a call to action and a blueprint for developing new materials for educators, as well as parents and students. Hopefully, this investment has resulted in materials teachers feel comfortable using in the effort to curb youth tobacco use.
We Can Stop Nicotine Addiction Before It Starts
FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products sees a future in which tobacco-related disease is part of the past, helping ensure a healthier life for every family. Our aim for this resource center is to help advance this vision by providing science-based, accessible materials to adults who have a positive influence on the lives of our youth.