HOTTOPIC: Find help to quit vaping and smoking

Federal and state officials have reported hundreds of total possible cases of pulmonary disease and several deaths that may be related to vaping.

Yale Medicine in early September shared what it deemed a “startling” statistic: More than 3.6 million middle- and high-school students currently use e-cigarettes. The report explained vaping — to inhale vapor created from a liquid heated up inside a device — and pointed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current warnings regarding health risks: “Federal and state officials have reported hundreds of total possible cases of pulmonary disease and several deaths that may be related to vaping.”

Patients’ symptoms ranged from cough, chest pain and shortness of breath to fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.”

Thomas Ylioja, Ph.D., tobacco cessation expert at National Jewish Health, asserted that the “long steady decline” in youth addiction to nicotine, primarily from traditional cigarette smoking, has essentially been undone.

“Now we’re seeing a rapid rise in teens, especially, using nicotine products, mostly through e-cigarettes. Social media advertising is appealing to kids because of the fruity and sweet flavors,” he said. “And because teens’ brains develop at a high rate, it can form around the need for nicotine, so it becomes more difficult when they try to stop.”

Yet, as Yale Medicine explained, some e-cigarette companies use vape liquid made from nicotine salts, instead of the traditional free-base nicotine found in most e-cigarette liquid, then mask the flavor of the high concentrations of nicotine with those of mango, strawberry, mint and more.

To combat rising addiction rates, Ylioja established the “My Life, My Quit” program, which includes real-time online coaching by highly trained individuals who will develop personalized support and help for building a plan to become free from nicotine.

Also, 1-800-QUIT-NOW is a toll-free number operated by the National Cancer Institute that connects callers to their state’s tobacco cessation services, of which “My Life, My Quit” is involved, and callers are directed in several states to the program’s specific number, which is 855-891-9989.

“The program addresses the three A’s: avoid, adjust, alternatives,” said Ylioja. “Avoid triggers (stress, peer pressure), adjust routine (sports or job versus gaming), and find alternatives (chewing gum).”

Ylioja echoes Yale Medicine’s and CDC’s concerns, pointing out, “We’re in a nicotine addiction epidemic, and nicotine impacts learning, memory, concentration, mood and more. The more people who can stop using, the better off their health will be.”

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