Cool tool to keep kids from smoking

adolescent girls on phone

Free kit helps parents and providers guide teens in healthy choices

What’s the best way to help youth avoid nicotine addiction? Make sure they never start.

That’s the goal of a new Stanford-based youth-focused Tobacco Prevention Toolkit, which includes educational materials to discourage use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes. This free set of materials aims to inform youths on the dangers of tobacco use and addresses all the various ways teens can access tobacco in today’s environment.

Under the leadership of Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD, at Stanford University, the toolkit is based on current research evidence and was developed through collaborative research partnerships with school educators, parents and youth across California. The California Department of Education co-funded the toolkit’s development.

Researchers have recently seen an increase in use of electronic cigarettes and hookahs among adolescents, partly due to misconceptions that these devices are harmless. A study shows that marketers make unsubstantiated claims about e-cigarettes, especially that they help people quit smoking. This year, the FDA extended regulations to cover vape pens, hookah pens and e-cigarettes, but controls remain lax. And that’s concerning because research clearly shows that nicotine changes the brain. Tobacco-using adolescents are especially susceptible because as their brain develops, nicotine alters the brain’s delicate network of neurons and synapses, increasing teens’ chances of becoming addicted and making them key targets for tobacco companies.

The Tobacco Prevention Toolkit is available for free here and includes modules on:

  • Nicotine addiction
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Applying positive youth development to tobacco prevention
  • School-based tobacco-free policies

Educational materials include presentations and worksheets geared to middle- and high-school students that can be used by teachers in classrooms and afterschool settings as well as by parents who are planning to talk to their kids about tobacco use and e-cigarettes.

“We needed to revamp education to match what’s really going on in adolescent decision-making,” Halpern-Felsher said. “We hope that this toolkit will help educators throughout California and across the country teach their students and other youths about the dangers of tobacco and ultimately reduce widespread use (of tobacco).”

Other recent studies on youth and tobacco use:


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