Quit it don’t hit it: TUPE hosts Quit Kit event

Ingrid Houtkooper

This Thursday, April 6, from 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. in Room 120, the Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) team is hosting the first ever “Quit It Don’t Hit It! Turn in your Vape Event.”

TUPE is a club that meets during SMART periods and works to educate both the Redwood student body and students in surrounding middle schools about the dangers of nicotine, tobacco and vaping. Junior Alessandra Alioto was inspired to join the club after watching people close to her struggle with nicotine addictions. 

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is a really cool way to help people that are younger stop their addiction sooner, and break the cycle of people getting addicted.’ [Education about addiction] is something close to my heart,” Alioto said. “[TUPE’s] goal is not to tell people what to do, but to educate them so when they do encounter choices with nicotine in high school and middle school, they’re prepared and knowledgeable about it, and know the risks.” 

TUPE is split into committees, one of which is focused on limiting the use of drugs at Redwood. This committee specifically planned the “Quit It Don’t Hit It!” event, in which TUPE students give out “Quit Kits” in exchange for vapes, in order to encourage students to quit.

Hanging throughout school, posters advertising the event explain the point of the Quit Kits and encourage students to exchange their vapes.

Senior Ashley Morris is a part of this committee and helped formulate the idea for the event last year. 

“We always see kids vaping in the bathrooms, they take over the big stall, and I hear a lot of stories about kids wanting to quit. We started talking about helping students at Redwood quit [vaping] in a safe and effective manner. Quitting is one of the hardest things to do. So last year, we had it in the works, and then this year, we finally are getting to install the Quit Kits in school, give them out anonymously, and have kids turn in their vapes without them feeling like they’ll get in trouble, because they won’t,” Morris said. 

Alioto explained the importance of giving people tools to use to support themselves when trying to quit an addiction. 

“Withdrawal symptoms when quitting nicotine can be severe and difficult. Eighty five percent of people that try to quit end up relapsing because the symptoms are so severe. We want to give people [resources] instead of just telling them to quit cold turkey. We want to help them get through the process. So there are fidget toys and different [kinds of] gum you can chew. [Also,] resources like our phone numbers and our website in case people need help getting through it,” Alioto said. 

Each item in the package is intentionally placed in order to provide students who are trying to quit with a distraction. 

“Inside the Quit Kits, there are stress balls, putty, Warhead Sour Spray, tea bags, there’s a lot of things in there. [The tools are] supposed to attack where your brain is trying to quit and [wanting] that fix, so we came up with different fidget toys and things that you put in your mouth so you won’t need to feel like you have to vape or smoke,” Morris said. 

Although this is the first time the event is taking place, the club is optimistic that people will be encouraged by the Quit Kits to come to the event. 

“I hope it works. I think if [students] know about it, or have the confidence to [come], after the first couple of kids turn in their vapes they will realize it’s a safe thing,” Morris said. “We’re not trying to get people in trouble. We’re trying to help people get their health better, and not be in a life of addiction.”

Alioto is also hopeful that the event will continue to expand and progress over time, depending on how well this first event goes. 

“We’re hoping that if it goes well we’ll make it biannual, so we’ll do one in the fall and [one] in the spring. And we’re hoping that next time we’ll be able to have gift cards to give people. We tried to do it this time, but we didn’t have any funding so we had to ask for donations, and no one is really willing to give us donations,” Alioto said. 

In addition to the kits, Morris emphasized the importance of reaching out to others when trying to quit. 

“As much as I’d like the Quit Kits to help [those quitting] fully, I don’t think the kit itself can help. I think it’s also [having a] positive mental attitude and feeling like you can talk to somebody. We can only give them so much. We also need them to have the initiative to help themselves too,” Morris said.