Tobacco increase among youth shines light on importance of quitting

The number of middle school and high school students who use tobacco products has increased to 4.9 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC report stated a rise in the use of e-cigarettes is responsible for the upturn in tobacco usage among the students. This negates what had been a positive trend downward among young people and tobacco use.

In 2017, it was reported by the American Lung Association (ALA) that e-cigarette use among adults had increased from 12.6% to 14.4%. The increase in use of the recently developed tobacco products among youth points reflects the image that they, and adults, have of them. It also emphasizes the need to avoid using any tobacco products.

Why e-cigarettes?

There are several reasons cited by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that e-cigarettes, only available for about ten years in the U.S., are gaining in popularity among young people. The first is the impact of a friend or family member who uses them. 39% of young e-cigarette users are influenced by friends and family who use them. 31% of users cite the availability of a variety of flavors, including candy, fruit, mint or chocolate. The third reason is also prevalent among adults who use them. That is the belief that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

Impact of e-cigarettes

The American Lung Association states that e-cigarettes can cause major health risks because of the materials used in their production. The Lung Association cites findings that toxic substances and chemicals found in e-cigarettes are also found in herbicides used for killing weeds. People who use them are not only prone to coughing and wheezing, just as those who use traditional tobacco products, they are also prone to major illnesses including lung disease, COPD, asthma and heart disease.

The Surgeon General reports that nicotine exposure impedes the development of the brain among those under age 25. Additionally, second-hand smoke of e-cigarettes is just as dangerous to non-smokers as other second-hand smoke. It is also believed that young people who smoke e-cigarettes may become inclined to smoke traditional cigarettes later in their lives.

Methods to stop smoking

Whether a person uses e-cigarettes or traditional tobacco products, quitting has proven difficult. But there are now more options than ever open to those who make the decision to stop.

Stopping all at once, or “cold turkey,” is possible and can be successful. It is more productive if it is planned. A specific date should be chosen and as that date approaches, it is advisable to start discarding the products you are using to smoke and accessories, such as ashtrays and lighters. Substitutes activities for the hands and mouth should be planned for the period of withdrawal that usually starts between one and three weeks after a person stops smoking.

Family and friends should be enlisted for support. Many employers, insurance plans, hospitals, and clinics offer individual or group counseling sessions to help with quitting. The National Smoking Cessation Hotline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW provides telephone support 24 hours a day for those who are trying to quit.

Nicotine replacement therapy is also an option. Inhalers, lozenges or gum provide less nicotine than cigarettes and eliminate tar and carbon monoxide associated with use of tobacco. Nicotine patches and nasal sprays are also available. The nicotine doses are reduced as the therapy progresses. Non-nicotine vapor cigarettes are also available and designed specifically for those trying to quit smoking.

Medications, such as bupropion and varenicline, marketed under several brand names, are also available. Bruproprion should be started before stopping smoking and verenicline may induce side effects.

To learn more about ways to quit smoking, log on to vascularhealthclinics.org.