Baptist Health Hardin releases findings of vaping prevention curriculum among middle and high school students

July 27, 2022

Middle and high school students were surveyed.

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky., July 26, 2022 – Baptist Health Hardin, together with the Elizabethtown Independent School (EIS) District, recently reported some positive results from a vaping prevention curriculum administered at Elizabethtown High School and T.K. Stone Middle School. The initial results identified that students reported an increased awareness of the health risks associated with vaping following the curriculum and are more likely to say no or walk away when offered an e-cigarette.

Middle and high school students were surveyed following the delivery of the school-wide Vaping Prevention Curriculum completed during the last semester of the 2021/2022 school year. The surveys gauged awareness of their knowledge of e-cigarette risks and harms, e-cigarette refusal skills, likelihood of ever trying e-cigarettes and cigarettes, and e-cigarette and cigarette use. The report was prepared by Devin McCauley, PhD, of the Stanford University Reach Lab.

Student surveys also identified the following findings:

  • Participants’ knowledge of e-cigarette risks and harms improved from before the curriculum was delivered to after it was completed.
  • At pre-test, approximately half of the participants agreed that using e-cigarettes reduces stress (46%). However, after using the curriculum, less than 30% agreed with this statement.
  • After participating in the Vaping Prevention Curriculum, high school students suggested that it would be easier to say no and easier to walk away from the situation if a friend offered them a vape.

The Vaping Prevention Curriculum, administered by Baptist Health Hardin community health nurses in partnership with EIS, was scheduled in part due to findings identified in the 2021 – 2023 Baptist Health Hardin Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA).

The CHNA, which was the first for Baptist Health Hardin, was developed by a 15-person committee consisting of local medical professionals, corporate leaders, education officials and nonprofit leaders. An eight-person team of leaders at Baptist Health Hardin served as facilitators for the project. The committee met several times to develop and distribute the public survey used for the assessment and will continue to meet in order to identify and implement solutions.

The assessment identified four key community health concerns. Committee members and facilitators recently provided input for a strategic implementation plan to address these problems, including strategies and actions Baptist Health Hardin is currently performing and ideas the committee should tackle. The four key concerns include:

  • Smoking, vaping and lung cancer. According to the assessment, nine of the 10 counties in Baptist Health Hardin’s service region have higher adult smoking rates than the average rate of Kentucky, a state known for having one of the highest smoking rates in the country. In Hardin County, 38% of adults smoke.
  • Obesity. According to the assessment, only one county in Baptist Health Hardin’s service region had a lower rate of obesity than the Kentucky average, which is one of the highest in the U.S.
  • Mental health and substance abuse. More than 26% of those surveyed indicated they had high or very high levels of stress. Almost 18% rate their own mental health as fair or unhealthy, while 40% rate the mental health of the community to be unhealthy or very unhealthy.
  • Access. Seven of the 10 counties in Baptist Health Hardin’s service area had much lower primary care and mental health provider ratios compared to the rates of Kentucky as a whole, according to the assessment.

Through 2024, the assessment will serve as a roadmap for the hospital and local organizations and partners interested in addressing central Kentucky's biggest health-related challenges. The assessment has inspired partnerships like this one with EIS and Baptist Health Hardin and another with area food banks to provide healthcare screenings to vulnerable populations during food pick-ups.

“Tobacco use of all kinds plagues Kentucky and unfortunately, too many kids start smoking and vaping in middle school or before,” said Dennis Johnson, Baptist Health Hardin president. “Fortunately, local educators are willing to try and start discouraging tobacco use early.”

EIS Superintendent and CHNA committee member Kelli Bush said it was a natural fit to partner with Baptist Health Hardin to provide this curriculum to Elizabethtown students.

“Unfortunately, statistics show vaping continues to increase among middle and high school students,” said Bush. “It is our hope that by providing our students with accurate, reliable information about vaping, we can discourage adoption and usage. The curriculum and survey provide our teachers and parents key insights to help discourage e-cigarette and cigarette use.”

To view the full community health needs assessment, visit