LONG BEACH (CNS) - The Long Beach health department announced today the launch of a youth tobacco diversion program aimed at educating young people about the dangers associated with vaping and smoking and providing the resources to help them quit.
The free program -- funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice -- will serve as an alternative to suspension for children caught using tobacco products on school property or violate state and local smoke-free laws, local health officials said.
“Youth vaping has increased at alarming rates and research shows that those who vape are up to seven times more likely to become infected with COVID-19,'' said Kelly Colopy, director of the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. “Nicotine can be found in most vape devices and can alter the development of the teenage brain, leading to addiction and other health problems later in life.''
The city's health department hosted its first virtual tobacco diversion class last month as part of a series of educational courses that will be held monthly throughout the school year.
As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, the series is being made available virtually via Zoom to any youth from age 14 to 18 who smokes/and or vapes.
Children can be registered for the program through an online form athttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScqlFqp25zH0AFu0bNMyoJBdltrXreAoYJNhcpOZryra09Y5w/viewform.
The program is part of the health department's response to the youth vaping epidemic. The city's Tobacco Education and Prevention Program also offers a free, eight-week youth summer leadership program with presentations to student and parent groups on smoking and vaping.
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