Brief Tobacco Intervention for Referral Partners

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Special Considerations for Youth

In addition to connecting adults with Illinois Tobacco Quitline resources, you may also connect youth ages 12-17 to the My Life, My Quit program, which is available to youth in Illinois and is always 100% free and confidential. Providers may either directly refer youth using an online referral form or advise youth to text “Start My Quit” to 36072 or visit to connect with a coach.

About 2.80 million U.S. middle and high school students currently use at least one tobacco product, including e-cigarettes. According to a 2022 Illinois Youth Survey report, 32% of 12th graders, 24% of 10th graders, and 13% of 8th graders report using e-cigarettes or other vaping products within the last year in Southern Illinois.

The My Life, My Quit program is a free and confidential service for teens who want help quitting all forms of tobacco – including e-cigarettes. My Life, My Quit coaches receive extensive training as Tobacco Treatment Specialists, with additional training on adolescent cognitive and psychosocial development from a Stanford University psychologist and professor who specializes in adolescent tobacco prevention.

Teens who participate in the program receive:

  • Five, one-on-one coaching sessions usually scheduled every 7-10 days. Coaches use motivational interviewing and cognitive-behavioral techniques to help teens develop a quit plan, identify triggers, practice refusal skills and receive ongoing support for changing behaviors.
  • Self-help and educational materials designed for teens, with input from teens.
  • Additional support by phone, text message, or online chat outside of scheduled coaching sessions.

My Life, My Quit is developed and operated by National Jewish Health, the nation’s leading respiratory hospital and academic research center. National Jewish Health operates quitline programs in numerous states and has helped more than one million people through their quit attempts.

The U.S. is in the middle of a teen vaping epidemic. Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth. And, in 2023, approximately half of all youth who reported ever trying e-cigarettes indicated that they currently continue to use them. 1

E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless: nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain and impact learning, memory, and attention. In addition to nicotine, the aerosol that users inhale and exhale from e-cigarettes can potentially expose both themselves and bystanders to other harmful substances, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs. 2

Based on comprehensive information developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to prevent and treat tobacco use among teens, it is recommended to promote and proactively enroll teens who use tobacco into cessation programs like My Life, My Quit. 3

Additionally, healthcare professionals may also deliver Brief Tobacco Intervention with teens using tools outlined in the 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines, such as The 5 A’s or Ask-Advise-Refer models. 4

When communicating with youth about their tobacco use, there are a few key tips to remember: 

  • Keep an open dialogue and listen nonjudgmentally
  • Be honest, direct, and impactful
  • As you talk to teens who already use tobacco, point out that they may already be addicted to nicotine even if they don’t realize it
  • Educate teens that tobacco companies spend billions of dollars solely on marketing and explain they are targeted to become customers for life
  • Encourage teens to seek professional cessation help

While quitting tobacco for good is a decision that teens must make themselves, you can help motivate them to quit and connect them with cessation resources.

  • Let teens know you are concerned about the impact of tobacco use, including vaping, on their current and long-term health.
  • Tell them you want to support their plan to stop and ask if they would be interested in signing up for the My Life, My Quit program.
    • If they are not willing to enroll at the time, provide them with information about how to enroll and let them know they have support to help them quit.
    • If a teen is ready to get started, you may either fill out an online referral form on their behalf, or advise them to text “Start My Quit” to 36072 or enroll online at