An alliance of health leaders and providers hope a first-of-its-kind e-cigarette quit program will help convince young people in Douglas County to quit vaping.

“This is Quitting” is a free text messaging program from Truth Initiative created in the wake of the surgeon general declaring a youth e-cigarette epidemic in 2018.

Starting Oct. 1, Douglas Public Health Network, Blue Zones Project, and CHI Mercy Health joined with Truth Initiative to bring “This is Quitting” to Douglas County.

The text messaging program incorporates messages from other young people like them who have attempted to, or successfully quit, e-cigarettes. It is tailored for various age groups and provides resources for parents.

Christin Rutledge, program manager for DPHN, said the goal for all the groups involved was to provide tangible help for the youth in the county.

“Instead of saying please don’t vape, we wanted something that if they wanted to stop, that we could help them, so that’s where this program came in,” Rutledge said.

“This is Quitting” can provide anyone texting the number with weekly text messages about the program.

“What’s really great about the program is youth were involved in creating it and deciding the messages they should get back or how often they should get messages,” Rutledge said.

For those who set a quit date, the program offers regular support for participants. If they choose not to set a date, they will still get messages to help them build up the confidence and self-esteem to get to the point where they can quit. Users can receive on-demand support for cravings, stress, and slips in addition to their scheduled interactive messages.

Douglas County public health officials agree that e-cigarette use among youth, also known as vaping, is a major concern in the county as well as a national epidemic.

According to the 2017 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey, 9% of eighth graders and 12% of eleventh graders in Douglas County currently use e-cigarettes. For 11th graders, the figure was higher than the percentage using traditional tobacco cigarettes.

Health officials said the messages help young people feel motivated, inspired and supported throughout their quitting process. Since the program was released in January 2019, more than 54,000 young people have enrolled nationwide.

Officials say the resource is particularly important for teens and young adults, for whom nicotine is especially dangerous.

To enroll in the program, text “VAPEFREEDC” to 88709.

Flyers and palm cards with the text code and number will be distributed to schools and other community partners across Douglas County. For information about the program go to the website at https://truthinitiative.org/thisisquitting, email Bailey Burkhalter at Bailey@DouglasPublicHealthNetwork or 541-464-3855.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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