The American Cancer Society marks the 43rd Great American Smokeout on November 15, 2018, a national campaign that has helped thousands of people quit smoking cigarettes. This year, the Great American Smokeout will also include a focus on helping people quit vaping, or the use of electronic smoking devices (ESDs), which have grown increasingly popular and hooked millions of new smokers.
"The tobacco industry has heavily marketed vaping products to young people through creative and colorful packaging and fruity flavors, giving the perception that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes," said Mary Mast, Health Program Specialist with the El Dorado County Tobacco Use Prevention Program. "But the truth is that vaping is still dangerous. Vaping products contain nicotine (ranging from 6 to 30 milligrams per milliliter) which can be addicting, as well as toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, lead, nickel, and diacetyl. Studies have also shown that young people who vape often move on to smoking regular cigarettes."
Vaping products are now the most commonly used tobacco products among U.S. youth. In El Dorado County, 22.7% of youth use tobacco products and 16% of youth use electronic vape based smoking devices (California Healthy Kids Survey, 2016).
Vaping products, also known as ESDs or electronic cigarettes, are packaged using various names and designs such as e-cigarettes, e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vapes, and vaporizers. One product commonly used by young people, called JUUL, is shaped like a computer flash drive. Vaping products are filled with a liquid that contains nicotine, and a small heating element inside the device turns the liquid into a vapor that is inhaled into the lungs.
The amount of nicotine found in these devises can be significant. For example, each JUUL pod cartridge contains the nicotine equivalence of a whole pack of cigarettes. Scott Gottlieb, the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, notes that "nicotine in these products can rewire an adolescent's brain, leading to years of addiction."
Contrary to popular belief, e-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA as a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). FDA approved NRTs to help quit smoking include over the counter products such as nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges, and prescription products such as inhalers, nasal sprays and oral medications available from health care providers.
Free resources and supports are available to help people quit smoking or vaping. The California Smoker's Helpline offers free over-the-phone counseling sessions by calling 1-800-NO-BUTTS, and online at www.californiasmokershelpline.org. The Smoker's Helpline provides these services for adults and teens in multiple languages, and has a texting program as well. The American Cancer Society also has stop smoking resources on their website at www.cancer.org.
For additional resources, or to find a stop smoking class in your area, please contact the Tobacco Use Prevention Program at (530) 621-6115.
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