According to a new study lead by University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health assistant professor Dr. Louis Brown, teenagers reduce the risk of tobacco use among younger generations when they share their own experiences with tobacco.
The study examined the effectiveness of Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU), a program developed by the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association, where high school and middle school students deliver factual presentations on tobacco to their younger peers.
“Youth are really relatable role models, especially when they’re talking with other youths. The authenticity is quite compelling,” says Dr. Brown.
Researchers conducted this particular study of the TATU Program at nine schools in a low-income, primarily Hispanic community in Texas. One question on the survey, which was used to measure the program’s effectiveness, focused on e-cigarettes, which have seen a significant spike in sales in among teenagers in the past few years.
Vaping took center stage in a secondary element of the Teens Against Tobacco Use program. Students who presented to their classmates also engaged in other types of anti-tobacco advocacy: For example, they attended and spoke at an El Paso City Council meeting in favor of a new ordinance that would prohibit e-cigarette use in parks and public outdoor spaces.
“Not only were their voices powerful, but elected officials responded to them in a different way than when adults spoke,” Dr. Brown says, “I think their message cuts through the discussion in a way adults can’t duplicate.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on October 25