The state has launched a program to help kids stop smoking, in part so students don’t get suspended from school.
An increase in students using e-cigarettes has led to many schools implementing automatic suspensions for smoking.
A recent state survey found 25 percent of seventh and 11th graders in the region say they vaped within the last 30 days. In Emmet County, youth vaping increased by 84 percent over the last two years.
Katie Joyce, a community health coordinator at the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, says health departments are trying to steer schools away from suspensions and instead focus on treatment.
“Kids can prove to their principals that they’ve been through the program and will help to eliminate keeping kids out of school for vaping,” she says.
Michigan also has a youth tobacco helpline where teens can get free and confidential advice via text or call. The number is 855-891-9989.
She says many kids don’t realize the health impacts of using vaping devices.
“We’ve watched kids trying to talk younger kids into it and say it tastes so good, it’s the flavor,” Joyce says. “They have no idea they’re addicting themselves.”
She says the health department has held 10 town halls this year, and she's also working alongside youth faith groups to help young people stop vaping.