Helping Teens Stop Using Tobacco (TAP)

A Step-by-Step, Voluntary Cessation Program for Teens

This award-winning, eight-session program provides tobacco-using teens in grades 7 through 12 with the information, motivation, and support to successfully stop using cigarettes or spit tobacco. In an adult-led support group setting, tobacco users are gently guided to a personally selected quit date and provided with specific strategies to remain tobacco-free. Facilitators and peers provide the cessation options, guidance, and social support for the choices participants make as they design their own approach to becoming tobacco-free.

Program Goals:
  • To increase awareness of short- and long-term effects of tobacco use
  • To understand the addictive nature of nicotine
  • To increase awareness of the risk for becoming victims of tobacco use
  • To identify the individual best ways to quit using tobacco
  • To explain a variety of cessation methods including cold turkey, tapering, and postponing
  • To provide specific techniques to handle nicotine withdrawal symptoms
  • To teach skills to avoid the triggers, thoughts, feelings, and physical cravings that lead to tobacco use, including stress management and refusal skills
  • To provide a supportive environment to encourage movement to the action and maintenance stages of change.

When and Where Does Helping Teens Stop Using Tobacco (TAP) Take Place?

The program should be easily accessible and should take place at a time and place where teens naturally congregate such as:

  • At school during the school day
  • After school, at a teen or youth center (YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Community Center, Cultural center
  • Place of worship
  • Hospital or mental health center.

How Many Sessions Are There and How Long Do They Last?

Helping Teens Stop Using Tobacco (TAP) consists of eight, 40- to 60-minute sessions. It is best to schedule the program to take place once a week, in order to give participants time to practice new skills and behaviors.


Who Facilitates Helping Teens Stop Using Tobacco (TAP)?
  • School Personnel: School nurse, health educator, police liaison officer (school resource officer), classroom teacher, assistant principal, guidance counselor, school social worker, student assistance coordinator, chemical health specialist, and others
  • Health Care Providers: Registered nurse, nurse practitioner, respiratory therapist, chemical dependency treatment, therapist, social worker, psychologist, public health educator, public health nurse, dental hygienist, hypnotherapist, and other concerned health care professionals
  • Law Enforcement/Probation/Juvenile Court: Law enforcement officer, probation officer, and police/school liaison officer (school resource officer)
  • Other: Youth worker, religious leader, parent, coach.

Cessation Endpoint

Because Helping Teens Stop Using Tobacco (TAP) is based on the stages of change, participants quit when they are ready. Many choose to quit in the seventh session. Others pick a special date (birthday, New Years Day, last day of school). Some quit after the group ends, having been taught the information and tools to quit when they are ready.


Type of Intervention

Students are referred as a result of a brief intervention by a parent, school nurse, teacher, dentist, physician, or any other concerned person. Many self-refer.