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Local researcher gets nearly $3M to help prevent vaping among rural youth

Tony Dejak/AP

A University of Hawaiʻi researcher is getting nearly $3 million to develop a new program preventing rural youth from vaping.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 18% of middle school students in the state use e-cigarettes.

Of those students, 30% are of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander ancestry.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded the grant to UH Cancer Center researcher Scott Okamoto. He’ll be in charge of developing and evaluating a school-based, culturally grounded vaping prevention program for rural youth.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to develop and test an e-cigarette prevention intervention tailored to rural Hawaiian youth," Okamoto said in a statement.

The project will build upon the Hoʻouna Pono program, a drug prevention curriculum designed for rural Hawaiian adolescents.

UH estimates more than 500 students will be a part of this project over the next five years.

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