The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health and West Virginia Department of Education are partnering to launch an anti-vaping campaign in West Virginia schools. Gov. Jim Justice announced the West Virginia’s Clear Future: Don’t Let Vaping Cloud It initiative, which will offer the evidence-based, peer-led CATCH My Breath vaping prevention curriculum to every county in the state over the next three years.
“Vaping is a huge problem all over the country, and now we’re setting out to actively educate our students about the extreme dangers associated with e-cigarettes,” Justice said. “Vaping is very harmful for all users, but especially kids, making it a massive issue for our schools. Our goal is to educate our students early and prevent them from falling into this dangerous vaping trap. This proactive approach will move the needle and I’m very proud to see it come to fruition.”
“The use of e-cigarettes is a significant issue facing West Virginia youth, with approximately half of all high school students reporting using e-cigarettes in 2021,” said Dr. Matthew Christiansen, state health officer and commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “This curriculum has been shown to effectively increase knowledge of the dangers of e-cigarettes and reduce nicotine vaping and overall tobacco use among students.”
The primary focus in year one is West Virginia middle schools, as data indicates the optimal time to prevent e-cigarette experimentation is by the age of 14 when most e-cigarette initiation occurs.
“E-cigarette use in West Virginia schools can have profound impacts on the future of young people,” said Michele L. Blatt, state superintendent of schools. “Together with our partners, including school teachers and counselors, we aim to decrease vaping among our students, and empower them to make informed decisions so they can lead healthier lives.”
Teachers and counselors who agree to serve as facilitators of the CATCH My Breath program will receive a free two-day, six-hour, online professional learning course to prepare them to effectively present the CATCH My Breath curriculum. These individuals will then act as facilitators to deliver four 40-minute sessions to students over a four-week period.
DHHR’s Division of Tobacco Prevention is working in collaboration with the American Lung Association and Partners in Health Network to identify and contact schools. Other partners include the Pallottine Foundation of Huntington and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.
To learn more about CATCH My Breach, visit https://catch.org/program/vaping-prevention/.