American Heart Association launches $20M initiative to tackle youth vaping crisis

Justin Udo
November 18, 2019 - 3:16 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — More than a quarter of high schoolers are using e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the American Heart Association plans to tackle the vaping crisis with a new $20 million initiative.

Vaping has been on the rise for middle and high schoolers over the last few years, and during that time, AHA says adults have unsuccessfully tried to stop them from participating in an activity that is proven to be fatal.

“Punishing them, taking them away from education, suspending them — probably not the right approach,” noted Dr. Rose Marie Robertson, AHA chief science officer. 

While reports suggest 27 percent of young students are vaping, Robertson believes that number is much larger.

“Everyone I have talked to shakes their head and smiles and says, ‘Those are way low. In fact, half of my school is vaping,’ ” she said.


To combat growing e-cigarette use among teens, AHA is putting $20 million toward its End the Lies Youth Vaping and Nicotine Research Initiative, which will fund projects and research. Researchers will analyze the impact vaping and nicotine have on youths, specifically, how e-cigarettes influence addiction; how effective they are for smoking cessation; nicotine’s impact on teen brain development; and the impact of policies that aim to reduce youth e-cigarette use.

AHA made the announcement during its annual national scientific conference in Philadelphia. Due to the urgency of the vaping crisis, funding for this program is 40 times the size of a typical AHA grant. 

“These new numbers with vaping and the fact that kids are getting addicted made us certain that we had to be all in and use every avenue we could to thwart this epidemic,” Robertson added.

The initiative also aims to educate and change vaping policies at a local, state and national level.