BOZEMAN — Tobacco usage among teens has surged across the country.
And the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says E-cigarettes are to blame.
With 8 confirmed vaping-related deaths across the country and the first case of a vaping related illness in Yellowstone County, the danger is starting to hit close to home.
“A good portion of the kids that we interact with that have these vapes will tell you they’re trying to get off of them. So in my mind that tells me that they're probably addicted to them,” said Sergeant Hal Richardson with the Bozeman Police Department.
“Nicotine is a highly addictive substance no matter what form it comes in. Including vaping devices. We also know that kids under 25 especially are more prone to addiction because their brain is still developing,” said Heather Demorest, Gallatin Health’s local tobacco prevention specialist.
Adults who want to kick their nicotine habit can use nicotine replacement therapy products like nicotine patches, lozenges and gum, that supply a low dose of nicotine to help curb withdrawals throughout the process.
But these products are only available to teens if they’ve had a doctor’s approval because these products have not been approved by the FDA for teenagers.
“The health care provider will have some information on what nicotine withdrawal is like, so you’ll be able to prepare your child for what that’s gonna be like and support them through that,” said Demorest.
“They might be able to provide some cessation aids depending on how old your child is and what other medications they’re taking.”
A healthcare provider will likely direct teenagers to the natural route to cut the addiction, and there’s a new support program aimed specifically to helping these teens.
“Fortunately, here in Montana we just got this new program called My Life, My Quit. It’s a free program for Montana Youth from ages 12-17 and basically it just offers free coaching. And the coaches help the youth to develop a quit plan,” said Demorest.
Teens can use the toll free hotline to text or call a coach when they’re in need of support,
But prevention continues to be where most efforts are directed in the fight against teen vaping.
“It’s interesting that now we’re having to talk about a program to help get people off of vaping when vaping was designed to get people off of tobacco. I mean that’s how it was marketed,” said Richardson.
You can learn more about the My Life, My Quit program at https://mylifemyquit.com/