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Connecting Health Literacy to Youth Vaping Prevention


Health Literacy Is an Everyday Issue

Health Literacy Month is an opportune time to consider the role you play in helping and educating people, especially youth, on making healthy choices. Health literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. It influences a wide range of everyday health issues, such as how people find medical care, sort through competing information to plan a healthy diet, or make long-term lifestyle changes to live more healthfully over time. Health literacy also applies to understanding the harms of tobacco use.

Educators, parents, and health care professionals, just to name a few, play a critical role in increasing health literacy, particularly around tobacco use, in meaningful ways.

FDA Supports Health Literacy Through Science-Based Tobacco Prevention Materials

One of the most impactful decisions people can make for their health is to never use tobacco — or to quit using tobacco if they've already started. FDA's Center for Tobacco Products helps people live tobacco-free by developing and disseminating accurate, science-based information about how tobacco use can be harmful, especially to youth. Through its Tobacco Education Resource Library, FDA offers dozens of free materials focused on tobacco prevention topics, including vaping, smoking cessation, and tobacco research. Much of this material is also available in Spanish.

In addition to the resource library, FDA's Vaping Prevention and Education Resource Center helps teachers and parents educate youth about the dangers of tobacco use. Notably, the site provides free, standards-mapped lesson plans that support teachers' efforts to help students achieve health literacy around vaping as defined by the National Consensus for School Health Education.

Content at the resource center helps teachers guide students to analyze information to understand why vaping is harmful, collect and present data to their peers, and assess the marketing tactics used to promote vaping products. The site also includes materials for parents, such as fact sheets, videos, and tip sheets to help them recognize vapes and understand the dangers of youth vaping, talk with their children about vaping prevention or cessation, and keep the conversation going over time.

Four Tips for Teachers and Parents When Visiting the Resource Center

  1. Start with the About page for a helpful overview about why FDA is dedicated to ensuring the site is a valuable resource for all, and what visitors can expect to find at the site.
  2. Check out the resources for teachers and parents.
  3. Review Vaping 101 to learn important facts about the health risks of vaping.
  4. Read up on how to talk about vaping with teens.
Student viewing the Education Resource Center website while sitting with other students and an adult.

Helping Students Educate Themselves

FDA's efforts to deliver tailored and understandable health content includes a focus on students. The Vaping Prevention and Education Resource Center features real-life stories and relatable content to help students gain health literacy about vaping as a serious issue that could impact their overall health and wellbeing.

Students who visit the site can access classroom assignments, activities, Vaping 101 articles, and videos. All site content was developed to help students learn the facts about nicotine addiction, why vaping is harmful, common myths about e⁠-⁠cigarettes, and how to say no to vaping.

For example, the lesson plan Decode the Marketing Message helps students educate themselves about how e⁠-⁠cigarette marketing appeals to youth audiences — an everyday issue that teens must navigate in order to make healthy decisions. FDA supports health literacy by providing this information in ways teens can understand and use to their benefit.

We Can  Stop Nicotine Addiction Before It Starts

FDA sees a future in which tobacco-related disease is part of the past, helping to ensure a healthier life for every family. In line with health literacy practices, our aim is to provide easily accessible, science-based resources that are understandable to our audiences — empowering and informing everyday choices to live tobacco-free.