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We know that tobacco use and exposure to nicotine in any form are dangerous for kids younger than 18. And while many young people are aware of the negative health effects, they often underestimate the addictive power of tobacco products. Because brain development continues until age 25, youth are especially at risk for developing an addiction that can be a very difficult habit to kick and can result in debilitating or even deadly consequences later in life.

Prevention efforts are a first line of defense, but for most, adolescence is a time of experimentation, which often includes risky behaviors such as trying tobacco and vape products. For those who want to get involved in anti-tobacco efforts or need help quitting, there are many programs and resources available.


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  • Not On Tobacco
  • Get Family Involved
  • Avoid Discipline


One of the most successful and widely used teen smoking cessation programs in the country is the NOT program, which is designed for 14- to 19-year-old tobacco users. The NOT program uses evidence-based cognitive-behavioral strategies presented as a series of hour-long sessions covering such topics as self-management, social influences, relapse prevention and managing nicotine withdrawal.

NOT takes a different approach to cessation than many traditional, school-based programs, because it is not punishment-based but rather builds on the desire of students who want to quit using tobacco and offers them education and support to accomplish that goal.

It is a voluntary and comprehensive program that was designed specifically for teens. The American Lung Association developed NOT in partnership with researchers at the West Virginia University Prevention Research Center. It provides a supportive approach to help youth quit.

The Tobacco Control Program offers funding to provide free training for South Dakota schools (advisors and students in grades 7-12) on NOT. There may also be funding available for mini-grants to support school activities. Check with your local Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for more information.


Families have an enormous influence on students’ smoking perceptions and attitudes, and family members should be involved in school tobacco use prevention efforts as much as possible.

Programs that include interactive homework assignments that educate and involve parents and other family members not only increase family discussions on this important topic but can also lead to better home policies about tobacco use and even encourage adult smokers to quit.

Refer parents to the Parents page or the cessation services (available to anyone 13+) offered by the South Dakota QuitLine.


Multiple factors contribute to youth being at higher risk for tobacco use and nicotine addiction, and we know there are definite cognitive differences between adolescents and adults. Cessation strategies for young people must be approached differently if they are to be effective because:

  • Adolescents’ lives are less structured and can be very stressful.
  • Adolescents are not as likely to be interested in analyzing their motivation for using tobacco.
  • Youth who use tobacco may be reluctant to identify themselves as smokers or tobacco users, and their commitment to quitting may not feel urgent to them.
  • They do not have well-developed self-regulation skills (i.e., the ability to identify their own behaviors, engage in self-monitoring and anticipate and develop practical plans for problem situations).

Simply taking strategies that are designed for adults and overlaying youthful terminology or presenting them in fun formats will not necessarily yield effective results.

The way adolescents use tobacco products must also be considered. Adolescence is a time of change and experimentation, and during the initiation stage, tobacco use behaviors are highly variable. Adolescents may be experimenting with cigarettes, vape and smokeless tobacco products as well as trying alcohol and other drugs.

The vape epidemic has complicated prevention efforts and increased the need for cessation strategies specific for teens and young adults. Thousands of young people are becoming addicted to tobacco each year and, instead of getting education or support, they are getting suspended from school or other disciplinary measures.

According to the American Lung Association, research suggests that school policies prohibiting tobacco product use, when consistently enforced, are an essential part of lowering teen tobacco use rates. It is just as important that all policies are balanced with educational programming for teens to further understand the consequences of lifelong dependence and addiction, along with proven-effective strategies in supporting ultimate cessation should they want to quit.

Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health (INDEPTH) is a new alternative to suspension or citation that helps schools and communities address the teen vaping problem in a more supportive way. Instead of solely focusing on punitive measures, INDEPTH is an interactive program that teaches students about nicotine dependence, establishing healthy alternatives and how to kick the unhealthy addiction that got them in trouble in the first place.

Developed by the American Lung Association in partnership with the Prevention Research Center of West Virginia University, this new free education program is available for any school or community to establish to help our teens make healthier choices.