No better time than now to quit


There is no better time than now to quit smoking cigarettes and/or vaping nicotine. Over the last decade, smoking cigarettes, especially in public, has become less socially acceptable. There have been laws that have been put in place restricting where people can smoke in publicly shared spaces. All of this because we recognize as a society the dangers of smoking cigarettes and being exposed to secondhand smoke. Unfortunately, it seems that most believe that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, however, this is still not a safe or healthy choice.

Smoking tobacco and vaping nicotine have known serious health risks. Both activities involve the inhalation of harmful chemicals and toxins that can have detrimental effects on the body.

Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, many of which are known to cause cancer. Smoking is linked to lung cancer, cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder. Smoking also increases the risk of chronic lung conditions that cause difficulty breathing and can be life-threatening. Smoking cigarettes and vaping nicotine increases your risk of gingiva disease (that cause gum infections and rotten teeth). It also increases your risk of premature aging and premature death.

Vaping nicotine, while often considered a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, is not safe. There is nothing safe about it. According to a study by the John Hopkins Institute, there are nearly 2,000 chemicals in the liquid used to vape, many of which are unidentifiable. The US Surgeon General warns that the aerosol that users vaping nicotine exposes the user and bystander to harmful substances, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs. The amount of nicotine that is used in a vape and/or e-cigarette is often much higher or more concentrated than in the tobacco that is in cigarettes.

Nicotine is a very toxic substance. Researchers have suggested that nicotine may be just as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Isn’t it scary that something that is highly addictive is easily purchased at every gas station, super market, or corner store?

Nicotine has known negative effects on the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. The effects of nicotine raise blood pressure and increase heart rate, which increases one’s risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, the liquid used in e-cigarettes can also contain other harmful chemicals, such as diacetyl, which has been linked to a potentially life-threatening lung condition called bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn lung.”

Smoking and vaping can cause chronic inflammation and permanent damage to the lungs, leading to chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema. Smoking and vaping have also been associated with and increase risk of complications during and/or after common respiratory illnesses.

Many people today consider themselves “non-smokers” because they quit smoking cigarettes by switching to vaping nicotine. From a medical opinion, if you vape, you are still a smoker.

The number of tweens, teens and young adults that have started vaping nicotine is mind-blowing. It seems as if it is a social contagion. These children and adolescents that would have never considered smoking cigarettes are using vapes because it is the “cool” thing to do. In the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, it was discovered that more than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students reported using vapes or e-cigarettes in 2021.

As a parent of two teenagers, I find this a very alarming statistic. These adolescents do not understand the serious risks they are taking with their health. Using Nicotine in adolescence can also increase the risk of further addiction throughout the lifespan.

In conclusion, smoking tobacco and vaping nicotine are both habits that can have serious health consequences. It is important to be aware of these risks and to take steps to quit or avoid them all together. Choosing to quit smoking and/or vaping individuals can reduce their risk of developing serious health conditions and improve their over-all well-being. There is no better time to quit than now.

The Morrow County Health District in partnership with the Ohio Department of Health offers the public help to quit smoking/vaping at no charge. For more information, please call the QUIT Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Amber Boice, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, is a certified family nurse practitioner at the Morrow County Health District.

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