Hot Topics     Teen Health    

Back-to-school could mean back to nicotine addiction for some teens

The NYS Smokers' Quitline offers free resources to help teenagers and their parents on a journey to become nicotine-free

Back-to-school teen nicotine addiction

With back-to-school season and COVID-19 protocols becoming less restrictive, teenagers will soon encounter more opportunities for socialization. This unfortunately could mean exposure to vape products, which often have high concentrations of nicotine and harm the still-developing brain. The New York State Smokers' Quitline (Quitline) wants teenagers and their parents to know free resources are available for learning how to overcome nicotine addiction to tobacco and/or vape products.

During a recent webinar hosted by the Quitline, titled, "Addressing Tobacco and Nicotine Use by Youth and Young Adults," the Quitline partnered with two top pediatricians and a representative from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Together, they discussed the challenges teens face with nicotine addiction and how both parents and healthcare professionals can offer support. Dr. Rachel Boykan, a clinical professor of pediatrics at Stony Brook University's Renaissance School of Medicine, explained that while overall prevalence of tobacco product use has decreased among New York State teens, the frequency of use has increased. She said this creates a concern for potential long-term addiction.

"Teens are particularly susceptible to addiction; the brain continues to mature through about age 25," said Dr. Boykan. "If it's hard for an adult to stop using nicotine products, it's even harder for a teen. Early data shows vape products – the most popular products among teens – are associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, behavioral concerns, low self-esteem and impulsivity."

READ MORE: Proper medication use can help tobacco users overcome nicotine addiction

Julie Gorzkowski Hamilton, director of adolescent health promotion for the American Academy of Pediatrics, warns parents that one "pod" or disposable vape cartridge can have as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. Once teens start using vape products regularly, she said, they may want to use them more and more.

"Many teens don't recognize they’re addicted. Parents and healthcare professionals need to let them know they're there for support," Gorzkowski Hamilton said. "Some pediatricians have found success offering a 'two-week challenge,' a strategy for teens who don't think they're addicted. Ask them to try stopping for two weeks and see how it goes. If they have trouble, they may come back with interest in trying to quit."

Dr. Sara Siddiqui, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, noted that preaching to teens is often counter-intuitive. Instead, teens need education that tobacco and vape products do not relieve stress, but rather, add to stress.

"Children will need their parents' support for help," Dr. Siddiqui said. "This is an addiction, and quitting is hard. To parents, I say: your child needs you more than ever now."

The Quitline posted the webinar recording, slides and a youth and young adult cessation guide at its Online News Room. Additionally, the Quitline promotes a New York State-specific version of the Truth Initiative's text-based intervention, "This is Quitting." New York State youth and young adults can text "DropTheVape" to 88709; the program offers age-appropriate quitting recommendations for both 13-17 and 18-24 age ranges. Parents also can receive daily advice to help youth by texting "QUIT" to 202-899-7550.

The Quitline continues to provide coaching support seven days a week via phone at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), through text messaging and online at Most participants aged 18 and older are eligible to receive a free starter kit of NRT medications shipped to their home address, usually consisting of nicotine patches and/or nicotine gum or lozenges.

Today's youth and young adults face mental health challenges and peer pressure at seemingly every turn, and the rigors of school are taxing enough on their brains. The Quitline hopes teens never turn to nicotine products, especially due to the high potential for addiction and adverse health consequences. For those who are addicted and struggling, the Quitline is here to help. Healthcare professionals and parents, likewise, should offer support and encouragement as part of a journey to become nicotine-free. 

About the New York State Smokers' Quitline
The New York State Smokers' Quitline is a service of the New York State Department of Health and based at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. It is one of the first and busiest state quitlines in the nation, and has responded to nearly 3 million calls since it began operating in 2000. The Quitline encourages tobacco and vape product users to talk with their healthcare professionals and access available Medicaid or health insurance benefits for medication support. All New York State residents can call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or text QUITNOW to 333888 for coaching and resources, free of charge, seven days a week beginning at 9 a.m. Visit for more information.

About Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer's grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or

Other articles by HVP News Reporters

  • Safety tips to follow when using gas or charcoal grills

    Following safety procedures when grilling can reduce injury and save lives

    Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer for many New Yorkers, and with it, the start of the grilling season. As New Yorkers get ready to fire up their grills this Memorial Day weekend, the New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) reminds consumers to consider some important safety tips for safe summer barbecues. read more »
  • Tips to help avoid moving scams

    Be aware of deceptive business practices

    For this week’s “Tuesday’s Tips,” the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection provides consumers with important tips to avoid scams when moving. Moving your belongings can be a stressful process, and unfortunately scammers use these situations to defraud consumers out of thousands of dollars by using deceptive business practices. read more »
  • 4 things parents and youth athletes should know about concussions

    Every person and every concussion is different

    Despite the attention drawn to the topic of concussions over the past decade, it can be difficult to find readily available answers about what parents and young athletes should do after sustaining a concussion. read more »
  • How to keep feet and ankles in tip top shape this summer

    Experts offer tips for you and your family

    Summer fun and chores alike come with potential hazards to feet. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, here’s how to protect feet and ankles from the most common seasonal hazards. read more »
  • Confused by nutrition labels? You’re not alone

    How to read the packaging on your groceries

    Shopping for groceries can be like navigating a maze: so many choices in every aisle, food packages covered in marketing claims, and little direction on what is truly healthy and what isn’t. People want to make healthy choices for themselves and their families, but how can they when the information available to them can be so overwhelming? read more »
  • Thoughtful gift ideas for Mother's Day

    Make your mom smile on her special day

    To show your mom just how much she means to you, choose a Mother’s Day gift that reflects her interests and passions. As you’re looking for the perfect gift, consider these thoughtful ideas that will touch her heart. read more »
  • How high-speed internet can help spark community vitality

    Let's get internet everywhere

    Most Americans consider high-speed internet an essential household service. Yet in rural America, an estimated 25% of the population doesn’t have broadband access, limiting their economic growth and access to career opportunities and resources such as education and health care. read more »
  • Girls on the Run launches new curriculum

    Meeting the needs of today's girls

    Girls on the Run International (GOTRI), a nationally recognized nonprofit that empowers young girls, has launched its new research-based curriculum intentionally designed to meet the needs of today's girls. Entitled Hello, Superstar!, the innovative curriculum helps girls build the confidence to be themselves through meaningful and engaging lessons and activities that keep them moving. read more »
  • From awareness to action:'s commitment to supporting healthy relationships with technology for kids shares resources aimed at creating positive digital experiences for children

    As the world observes Mental Health Awareness Month this May,, a leading provider of digital literacy solutions, is taking proactive steps to address a pressing issue: the need for young learners to develop healthy relationships with technology. Recognizing that banning technology isn't the solution, is engaging educators and parents in the conversation and providing free tools and resources during the month of May aimed at supporting the creation of positive digital experiences for children. Through an informative webinar with experts in the field on May 21, will foster discussions that aim to help students build healthy relationships with technology. read more »
  • 4 trends showing mental health is a continued challenge for Americans

    People with outward appearances of success, productivity and happiness often still deal with internal struggles. Mental health challenges continue to affect Americans, with nearly 3 of 4 (73%) U.S. adults reporting struggles with mental health in 2023. read more »