Nearly 23% of high school students use tobacco products and according to the CDC more than 90 percent of those teens smoke cigarettes, cigars, hookahs or pipes. Another statistic, “nine out of ten smokers tried their first cigarette by age 18”. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, “unless there is a drop in youth smoking rates, 5.6 million youth currently aged 17 and younger will die early from smoking-related diseases”.
I know that I see many teens who admit to smoking (not only cigarettes) and many of these teens think that they will be able to quit smoking when they “want to” . But studies show that about 75 percent of high school smokers will continue smoking into adulthood.
So I was interested when I came across an article in one of my journals about a free app that was created by the Tobacco Control Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute. The app called QuitSTART is geared specifically for teens. The app was developed with input from both smoking cessation experts and ex-smokers.
When you get on the app you will see that you need to provide information about your smoking history and then the app will give you personalized tips as to how to quit smoking. The app also lets you monitor your progress and earn “badges” for smoke free milestones. It also sends inspirational messages and challenges to help a teen become “smoke free”. The app also has links to games to distract you from nicotine cravings and you can even “share” your progress on social media. This is a great use of social media!
I can’t wait to tell my next teen smoker about this app, because I know it isn’t easy to quit smoking. But, if you have tried smoking, you already know this. This app seems like a good, free and easy way to “kick the habit” sooner rather than later.