News of the first confirmed death and nearly 200 cases of severe lung disease linked to vaping have stirred discussion about the safety of e-cigarettes and how to help those who want to quit.
E-cigarettes, or vapes, are electronic devices that heat liquid into vapor that can be breathed in. Some liquids are flavored, enhancing their appeal. Most contain nicotine, the highly-addictive chemical found in traditional cigarettes.
Some research shows that vaping may be less harmful than traditional cigarette use and may help some people quit smoking. That does not, however, mean vaping is safe. It may expose e-cigarette users to:
- Nicotine, which may damage the developing brains of children and unborn babies and has other negative side effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Formaldehyde or diacetyl, chemicals in some e-cigarette brands. Both are extremely dangerous when ingested, according to experts.
- Marijuana in a concentrated form, used with some vaping devices. And that could possibly lead to increased risk of additional drug use among teens, according to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics.
The U.S. Surgeon General has declared vaping an epidemic among young people. Two times as many boys as girls use e-cigarettes, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Yet, state and federal efforts to regulate nicotine sales among underage users are a “disturbing failure,” the American Lung Association declared in January 2019.
Where to find help
- The Connecticut Quitline provides support to people 18 or older looking to quit any form of tobacco or nicotine products. You can sign up for an online program, live chat with a Quit Coach®, or call 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- The Connecticut Department of Public Health has a list of in-person programs to help you quit tobacco or nicotine products, and a link to the Become an EX digital program, developed with the Mayo Clinic, which can help you quit cigarettes or vapes.
- Most ConnectiCare members may join QuitCare, a free program that helps you quit any form of tobacco and nicotine, including e-cigarettes and vaping. Call 1-800-390-3522 to enroll and meet a personal, trained tobacco cessation treatment specialist.
- The American Lung Association has a Freedom from Smoking® program. They offer an online program along with local group clinics around the state.
- The surgeon general created a comprehensive educational campaign to highlight the negative effects of e-cigarettes on children and young adults. It includes resources to help parents talk to their children.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gathered resources to help teens quit vaping. Those include everything from ways to quit and vaping triggers to how to deal with vape cravings.
Sources: https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/features/vape-debate-electronic-cigarettes; https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html; https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/teens-e-cigarettes; https://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/report-finds-disturbing-failure-stop-underage-smoking-vaping-u-s-n964276.