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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tri-County Mental Health Services is teaming up with the Northland Coalition for a new text-based program aimed at helping youth in the area quit vaping.

“It definitely became a prominent part of the high school environment especially with COVID,” Park Hill South senior Tamara Quinlan said.

“This is Quitting” is sponsored by the Truth Initiative and it is a nationwide program for teens to anonymously receive tips to quit using e-cigarettes.

Texting “BREAKFREE” to 88709 will send you free confidential advice and tips to promote quitting. They also promote the use of #thisisquitting on social media. There is also a a national phone number to call; 202-899-7550.

The Truth Initiative says teen vaping numbers went down in the last year, but the struggle to quit still exists. They say that 20% of high school students and 5% of middle schoolers use electronic cigarettes.

Tiffany Van Sickle with the Park Hill Community Alliance for Youth said the percent of teens who vape in Missouri is about 15% and Park Hill is down to 10%, but even though the numbers are lower than the national average, there is still cause for concern.

“One in 10 youth in the Northland is too many,” Van Sickle said. “We wanted to come up with some proactive ways to address that so we have this great tool that kids can anonymously text.”

Resources are made available for teens and parents to help each other get over the addiction and quit.

“Our data shows that if a young person starts using before the age of 18, they have about 1 in 4 chance of developing an addiction later in life,” Van Sickle said. “If we get them past 21, that goes to just 1 in 25.”