(ABC4 Utah) It’s not uncommon to hear that “Big Tobacco” died in the ‘90s. Unfortunately for those of us who lived through that decade, we know ‘90s’ trends are coming back around, but with a new spin on them to make them hip and cool again, according to Dr. Dixie Harris is a critical care physician at Intermountain Healthcare.

“Big Tobacco has done the same thing. It has revamped their products to come in discrete packaging and flavors, but e-cigarettes and vapes are just as addictive and our youth are their new target,” she said.

In Utah, more than 70,000 teens have tried e-cigarettes. Teens are also nearly seven times more likely to vape nicotine than adults. However, we are failing our children who have become addicted by not giving them the proper access to tools to help them quit vaping or smoking.

Utah has several barriers in place preventing youth from being able to receive help if they want to quit vaping or smoking. Currently, if a teen ages 13-17 calls the Utah Tobacco Quit Line, parental consent is required. According to data provided by the Utah Tobacco Quit Line, only 50 percent of Utah youth who wish to stop using products containing nicotine are willing or able to ask for parent/guardian consent.

“This is a huge detriment to our kids because people who call for cessation services are two times more likely to quit. Youth should have access to coaches and counseling to help them successfully quit their nicotine addiction,” said Dr. Harris.

Of the 22 states associated with Quit Line provider National Jewish Health, Utah is the only state to still require parental consent to participate. Other states do not require parental consent for youth to access tobacco cessation services, including Colorado, Montana, Nevada, California and more.

Parents of youth seeking cessation counseling services do not have to worry about their children and teens getting access to nicotine replacement therapies (NRT). The Utah Tobacco Quit Line never distributes NRT to youth as the FDA has not authorized NRT for minors to use unless under the supervision of a physician.

“Eliminating the requirement for parents to consent to their child’s participation in the Utah Tobacco Quit Line will make it easier for youth to access services, which include advice and coaching from trained cessation coaches who encourage and help them quit tobacco, vape or other nicotine products,” said Dr. Harris.

“By requiring parental consent, we’re missing the opportunity to help hundreds of youths end their addiction to nicotine. Utah needs to eliminate barriers for minors to access youth-specific cessation counseling so they can get the help they need to live a healthier future,” she added.

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