‘This is not something you want to experiment with’: a new WV program to help stop teen vaping

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FILE – In this April 23, 2014 file photo, a man smokes an electronic cigarette in Chicago. Teen vapers prefer Juul and mint is the #1 flavor among many of them, suggesting a shift after the company’s fruit and dessert flavors were removed from retail stores, new U.S. research suggests. The results are in a pair of studies published Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, including a report from the Food and Drug Administration and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that the U.S. teen vaping epidemic shows no signs of slowing down. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – Vapes are the most commonly used tobacco products amongst teens in the nation.

Across West Virginia, studies show almost 40% of high school students report using some type of vape product. That’s 8% higher than the national rate.

To combat such high numbers in the Mountain State, one local program – ‘CATCH My Breath’ – is trying to get ahead of the disturbing trend and target middle schoolers. 

“We’d rather catch them right now when they’ve never tried it. A lot of students we’re talking to have done it and they want to quit. So, we want to get to them before they even take a puff,” says Holly Mitchell, the Project Manager.

Mitchell says, with this program, they’re demonstrating the dangers of vapes to encourage teens to say “no.”

“When you’re young everything is you just trying it out and you want to experiment. But please know this is not something you want to experiment with. Because of the dangers. It’s not because it’s safer than cigarettes. Just because it’s safer does not mean it’s safe.” 

Holly Mitchell, Project Manager

Studies show teens are more likely to get addicted to vape products than adults because their younger brains are still developing. Therefore, programs like CATCH find targeting the younger crowd to be the most effective route.

A local vape shop manager says it’s not uncommon that he’s turning teens away.

“We get them every day. Every day they walk in and the thing that sucks is if they don’t come to us, they just go to another close-by location that they know they can get it from. I’ve seen them as young as 13 years old buying from places here in Huntington,” says Dalton Carpenter, the Chief of Operations with Puff Company.

Carpenter says he’s happy there’s a program like this for teens and if he could say one thing to those who are considering it, it would be “if you can keep from doing it, you definitely should.”

Mitchell says any schools interested in registering for the program can contact her via email at mitchellhj14@gmail.com.

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