LIVE WELL: TSET healthy initiative program moves…

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A new survey shows the serious health challenges faced by Oklahoma youth: vaping products lure Oklahoma youth to tobacco products and create nicotine addiction, and youth do not consume enough fruits and vegetables.

An online survey was conducted for seven weeks between August and September 2020 to assess tobacco- and obesity-related behaviors, knowledge and perceptions among Oklahoma teens to help direct messaging for the TSET Health Youth Initiative.

More than 400 youth statewide participated in the survey that found:

• 71% of vape users surveyed reported that e-cigarettes were the first tobacco product they tried;

• Among the overall sample, vapes were the most commonly used tobacco product (23%), and rural youth, specifically, reported significantly higher rates of vaping;

• Vape users reported high rates of co-use with other substances including alcohol (68%) and cigarettes (41%);

• 47% of vape users who never smoked cigarettes were susceptible to cigarettes, highlighting the dangerous potential of product escalation;

• 39% of vape users reported the most common way they accessed vapes was by borrowing them from someone else, implying that deterring youth access to tobacco products must go beyond Tobacco 21 laws.

The survey also highlighted the need for youth tobacco cessation support, with 46% of users having already attempted to quit at least five times.

These results support TSET’s investment in My Life, My Quit, a free and confidential, text-based vape and tobacco cessation service designed specifically for youth 13-17. Teens interested in quitting vaping can visit or text “Start My Quit” to 855-891-9989.

The additional information from the survey supported the TSET Healthy Youth Initiative kick-off campaign this fiscal year to counter tobacco-related health behaviors among teens 13-18 in Oklahoma. The two online and social media tobacco prevention campaigns targeted rural and urban vape use, which delivered more than 19 million impressions among Oklahoma teens. The youth cessation campaign for My Life, My Quit will start this month and run through the holidays.

Nutrition-related survey results revealed low water and high soda consumption rates as other critical health issues for Oklahoma youth, along with the need for more fruit and vegetable intake:

• 62% of teens surveyed reported they drank water two or more times daily and 31% of teens drank water less than daily;

• Daily soda consumption was high with 19% of teens overall, 20% of overweight teens, and 25% of rural teens reporting they drank soda two or more times daily in the past seven days;

• Overall, teens were most likely to report that they did not eat vegetables or fruits in the past seven days because they did not think about it (43% for vegetables, 53% for fruits) and their family did not buy it (38% for vegetables, 38% for fruits).

“The results of this survey provide relevant data points that show us that there is work to do in addressing the health of Oklahoma youth. Helping youth understand the benefits of healthy choices is key in helping the next generation of Oklahomans start out adulthood on the right foot,” said Julie Bisbee, TSET executive director. “This effort aims to support healthy choices and focuses on preventing health issues before they take root. Prevention is more cost effective than the treatment of preventable diseases.” 

TSET will tackle these nutritional health challenges with a new youth obesity prevention campaign planned for early 2021. The new messaging, along with the tobacco and vape prevention efforts launched this year, fall under the TSET Healthy Youth Initiative. (

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