Mobilizing a national response to the youth e-cigarette crisis

Mobilizing a national response to the youth e-cigarette crisis

Session Title: Youth E-Cigarette Prevention: Rapid Response
Day: Thursday, Day One
Time: 10:30am
Author Name: Brooks Ballard, Director of Communications for CATCH Global Foundation

In 2015, a team of top public health scientists was assembled to investigate a startling trend that seemed to have popped up overnight: A tobacco product that most adults had never heard of was suddenly being used by 1 in 6 high school students.

From 2011-2017, the rate of e-cigarette use among high school seniors leapt from almost nothing to an astonishing 48.6% having ever used the product, and 18.3% reporting regular use. The aforementioned team of scientists had been assembled by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to unpack this crisis and, as his predecessor Luther Terry had done just over 50 years prior, issue a report that could serve as a lodestar for regulatory agencies, researchers, and the public at large.

Tasked as the lead scientific editor summarizing the health effects of e-cigarette use among youth and young adults, Dr. Steve Kelder dove into the existing pool of research. As multiple pathways and possibilities for harm began to emerge, Kelder couldn’t help but notice that almost nothing was being done to prevent kids and young people from falling into this new nicotine trap.

The proliferation of sleek vaping products, like the now dominant JUUL, stealth social marketing campaigns, and a “Wild West” regulation-free market, were all gamechangers in their own right. Together they totally shattered the traditional tobacco prevention paradigm. The playbook needed to be re-written, and it needed to be deployed quickly.

Over the course of that summer, Kelder, who has extensive experience developing and evaluating school health programming, spent his evenings and weekends assembling a middle school e-cigarette prevention program. Having worked closely with CATCH Global Foundation (CGF) to disseminate other school health programming based on the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model, CGF and the program name “CATCH My Breath” were a perfect fit.

The program would still need to be pilot tested and evaluated before it would be ready for primetime. And it would need a national sponsor.

In our panel at the Healthier Texas Summit, we’ll go into what followed in what has turned out to be an incredibly successful rapid response, and we will discuss CATCH My Breath as a model for collaboration between researchers, non-profits, and corporations to address a public health crisis.

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Austin, TX 78705

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