Among adolescents, e-cigarette use is associated with an increased risk of vaping cannabis.
One of the top preventable risk factors for premature death among today’s adolescents is the widespread use of e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use exposes adolescents to nicotine and carcinogenic toxins and is associated with a five-fold increase in the likelihood of initiating conventional cigarette smoking, which puts youth at a higher risk for developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and lung disease. Although e-cigarettes primarily deliver nicotine, they also can deliver cannabis. Use of high potency cannabis oils (i.e., which are typically vaped) is associated with increased risk of experiencing anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. As adolescents transition back to in-person learning within schools, experts are concerned the environment is primed for a surge in e-cigarette use rates, indicating the need to invest in e-cigarette prevention that incorporates both nicotine and cannabis prevention.
Funded by the CT Department of Public Health, our team is currently developing reHASHed - a narrative-based videogame that teaches adolescents about the risks of marijuana use and vaping while providing a virtual environment to practice refusing peer pressure and self-management skills, such as coping and stress management. In the game, the player follows a group of friends as they prepare for the end of their freshman year in high school. As the player role plays different characters and plays through different scenarios, new chapters are unlocked, creating a larger meta-story.
This fall, our team will partner with local schools in CT to create the game based on school administration (i.e. teachers, school counselors) and adolescent feedback. We will implement the game in the spring and collect feasibility and acceptability data.