FDA Campaign Seeks to Discourage Vaping Among Native American Youth

More than half of Native American youth are at-risk for tobacco use, the FDA warns.

Federal health regulators have launched a new campaign that is designed to help address the widespread the use of e-cigarettes among Native American and Alaska native teens, and avoid the long-term effects of vaping and nicotine addiction among minors and prior non-smokers.

The FDA announced a “Next Legends” youth e-cigarette prevention campaign on June 8, which is aimed at educating American and Alaska Native youth between the ages of 12 and 17, preventing vaping among these teens.

The campaign hinges on teaching teens about the dangers and health risks of vaping using specific branding and tailored messaging to help inspire teens to live “Native strong” and vape-free.

There are more than 400,000 indigenous youth in the United States, and more than half are at-risk of using tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, according to the FDA. Furthermore, indigenous teens are more susceptible to using e-cigarettes than non-Native teens.

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“The Next Legends campaign is an important and creative way to educate Native youth about the harms of vaping,” said Michele Mital, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “E-cigarettes are the most used tobacco product among youth, and they pose serious health risks if used during adolescence, when the brain is still developing.”

Native teens have an extremely high experimentation rate and high current use rates of e-cigarettes. According to data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Native youths are more likely to use e-cigarettes than other teens and they are two times more likely to be frequent users.

Additionally, 50% of Native teens admitted to using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days compared to 33% of all high school students. Also, 20% of Native youth reported using e-cigarettes frequently, on 20 or more days in the last 30 days, compared to 11% of teens overall.

The Next Legends program focuses on using digital platforms, including social media sites like Instagram, Tik Tok, and others, as well as streaming and gaming platforms, like Twitch and YouTube. Research has shown social media and other advertising has helped to push teens toward smoking and e-cigarette use. This program focuses on using those methods to help reduce use.

The campaign will also use ads on billboards, radio and TV to help spread the message. The ads will feature members of the community and messaging focused on negative health consequences and risks of using e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes pose many health risks to users. Studies have suggested they contain a dangerous mix of carcinogenic chemicals and heavy metals and are just as bad for blood flow and cardiovascular function as traditional tobacco cigarettes.

Recent lawsuits filed against e-cigarette maker JUUL highlight the serious side effects vaping poses to teens. Research indicates JUUL products deliver much higher amounts of nicotine than other e-cigarettes, increasing the risk of addiction, especially among young users.

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