Coalition looks to curb e-cigarette use

The Record-Herald

Recently, the Fayette County Prevention Coalition began to offer a new program to help combat the rise of e-cigarette use by young people.

According to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), e-cigarette use, or “vaping,” among middle and high school students increased 78% in just one year. As of this 2018 survey, over 3.6 million youth across the nation reported using e-cigarettes. Per the most recent Core Measures survey conducted in Miami Trace Local and Washington City schools, the combined youth 30-day e-cigarette use rate in Fayette County is 6.26%.

What is the attraction? According to the 2018 NYTS, flavored e-cigarette use also increased 68%. Flavors are appealing and one of the top three reasons why this population uses e-cigarettes. Youth can purchase these products online despite the age restrictions, and there they risk purchasing black market products and pods filled with high levels of THC.

“It was my understanding that e-cigarettes were created to provide adult cigarette smokers with a safer alternative to combustible cigarettes,” said Nina Rains, co-director for the Fayette County Prevention Coalition. “Sadly, these vape products have gotten into the hands of our youth, many of whom were not at risk of becoming tobacco users. Students we have spoken to did not realize that just one JUUL pod contains the same amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarettes. Even more startling is that some Fayette County students report smoking four pods in one day. This is not safe for anyone, especially not for a young person still in the stages of development.”

In coordination with both school districts, Fayette County Prevention Coalition began implementing Project EX, an evidence-based youth smoking cessation program developed by the University of Southern California. Project EX is being offered as an alternative to out-of-school suspension for tobacco-related offenses and the hope is to keep students engaged in school and sports.

“Pods can be refilled and it is hard telling what students are refilling them with,” said Chuck Bennett, youth and community coordinator for the prevention coalition and instructor for Project EX. “I want to help educate students to make the best decisions for their body. The evidence-based program I teach talks about the impact their vaping has on friends and family members, provides factual information about the impact on the body and teaches students about stress relieving techniques, as stress is typically associated with use of any substance.”

So far this school year, 12 students have completed the Project EX program. At Miami Trace Alternative School, students are required to write an essay prior to exiting the program. One student reports that he learned things he did not know about vaping, including the nicotine content of a JUUL pod and how smoking affects the body.

“Running, riding a bike, playing games and other things can make you not want a cigarette. If you stay entertained maybe you might not smoke.”

Another student wrote that he learned that one pod is the equivalent of smoking an entire pack of cigarettes, and that concerns him because most people smoke an entire pod in a day. He said after this class, “I never want to do it again.”

“While it is concerning to see so many of our youth engaging in this harmful behavior, we have the opportunity to have a positive impact through Project EX. Students have already asked how their friends can get into the program,” said Bennett.

For more information or if your student is ready to take the first steps to quitting, contact Nina Rains by email: Students do not have to wait until they are at risk of being suspended from school or sports. The program is for anyone who wants to quit smoking. Resources:,


The Faith in Recovery/Fayette County Prevention Coalition was created to be a unified community response to prevent youth substance abuse and support the development of effective community programs to promote a safer, healthier, and drug free Fayette County.

Project EX is a school-based, tobacco-use cessation program for middle and high school youth. The program is delivered in a clinic setting, and involves enjoyable, motivating activities such as games, mock talk shows, and yoga.

The information in this article was provided by Nina Rains, Co-Director for the Fayette County Prevention Coalition.

The Record-Herald