MDH teams up with 'the TikTok Doctor' to combat e-cigarette use among teens | KSTP.com

MDH teams up with 'the TikTok Doctor' to combat e-cigarette use among teens

In this April 16, 2019 file photo, a researcher holds vape pens in a laboratory in Portland, Ore. Photo: AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer, File. In this April 16, 2019 file photo, a researcher holds vape pens in a laboratory in Portland, Ore.

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: November 09, 2021 10:41 AM
Created: November 09, 2021 10:27 AM

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is trying a new strategy to help combat teen e-cigarette use.

MDH announced Tuesday that it is partnering with Dr. Rose Marie Leslie, known as "the TikTok Doctor," to reach more teenagers who are affected by e-cigarette dependence. Leslie is a family medicine physician who has almost 1 million followers on TikTok.

Data from the 2020 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey indicates 70.4% of Minnesota teens who used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days reported signs of e-cigarette dependence. Both state and national data show over one-third of teens who use e-cigarettes use them frequently. That's nearly double the rate in Minnesota from 2017, MDH says.

"Teens are more susceptible to nicotine addiction due to their developing brains, and nicotine use during adolescence can have permanent impacts on learning, memory, attention and mood," MDH Senior Research Scientist Sharrilyn Helgertz said in a statement. "Given the long-lasting impacts, it is concerning to see an increase in Minnesota teens reporting signs of nicotine dependence."

That's why MDH is turning to Leslie. Research has shown about 70% of teens use TikTok, and Leslie discusses how nicotine products like e-cigarettes can be harmful to teens. She also shares teen-focused resources like "My Life, My Quit," which is offered through MDH for teens who want to quit e-cigarettes or other tobacco products.

"TikTok has been an outlet for me to break through the noise and reach young people with health information that is quick and simple to digest, and also entertaining," Leslie said in a statement. "Highlighting resources like My Life, My Quit to help teens break free from nicotine dependence has been a natural fit."

"My Life, My Quit" provides free and confidential support. More information is available online or by texting "Start" to 36072.


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