February 14, 2024

 

The bottom line? Nicotine is nicotine.

This Valentine’s Day, give your loved ones the gift they really want… you to stop vaping! Even if you don’t vape, you probably know someone who does. Or perhaps you have a not-so-sneaky kid who vapes. Media portrays vaping as everything from a popular trend to a health hazard, so what is the reality?

Who is vaping?

Let’s start with the numbers. Cigarette smoking has declined over the years from a peak of over 50% of Americans in 1980, electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use has soared. Young adults have adopted vapes rapidly — with over 1 in 10 young adults in the United States who regularly use e-cigarettes. There is also significant underage vape use, with 2.5 million U.S. middle and high school student self-reporting that they regularly use vape products.

Vape Basics

Vapes (AKA e-cigarettes) come in many shapes and sizes. They are battery operated devices that heat a liquid substance containing nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals to produce an aerosol that users inhale. Contrary to popular belief, they do not dispense harmless water vapor. No matter the delivery method (cigarette or vape), it’s the same highly addictive chemical: Nicotine.

How does vaping affect health?

While researchers are still learning about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes/vapes, here is what we know now:

Vaping may be harmful to lungs

Vaping can expose users to toxic chemicals and metal particles such as lead, chromium and nickel, which can harm the lungs. Harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke — such as formaldehyde, acrolein and acetaldehyde — are also found in e-cig aerosols.

Nicotine exposure is especially harmful for young people.

Nicotine can rewire a young brain to crave more nicotine and make the user more susceptible to other addictions. Nicotine can harm adolescent brain development, making it harder for young people to concentrate, learn, and control impulses.

Addiction is likely.

Once a person is addicted to nicotine, they’ll keep using harmful tobacco products, even if they want to quit. The convenience of vaping means more frequent use and more exposure to nicotine. They also come in a variety of flavors that are especially appealing to youth. Research has shown that youth who vape are more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of nicotine addiction can help you see when a teen or loved one needs help.

Symptoms of Nicotine Addiction

  • Feeling anxious or irritable due to cravings
  • Needing to vape after waking up in the morning
  • Vaping without thinking about it
  • Having trouble concentrating or sleeping
  • Thinking about vaping throughout the day
  • Vaping after learning the health risks

 

Quitting any tobacco product, including vapes, can be incredibly difficult. But it could be one of the best things you do for your health. Whether you’re looking to quit yourself or support a loved one, know there are free resources available to support quitting, such as 1-800-QUIT-NOW.  Additionally, most health insurance plans cover treatments and resources to support quitting.

Additional resources:

 

For individuals (teens and adults)

  • Call the Indiana Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free, personalized support to quit, including access to free quit smoking medicines.
  • Live Vape Free: Teens ages 13-17 can text the word ‘INDIANA’ to 873373 to learn more about vaping and get help with quitting.
  • quitSTART – Free mobile app to quit tobacco, including e-cigarettes

For Parents/Guardians

For Healthcare Providers

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Better Health in 90

Kayla Hsu

Authored By

Kayla Hsu, MPH, CHES®

Kinetiq Health Program Manager

As a Kinetiq Health Program Manager, Kayla provides businesses with customized health and wellness solutions to better manage and improve the overall health and well-being of their employees.

Prior to joining Apex in March 2022, Kayla worked at the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center on a statewide grant initiative integrating evidence-based tobacco treatment services into behavioral healthcare settings. She also has experience as a quality improvement advisor with a nonprofit healthcare quality improvement consultancy and Medicare Quality Improvement Organization (QIO).

Kayla is a trained Tobacco Treatment Specialist (TTS) and earned the National Certificate in Tobacco Treatment Practice (NCTTP). She is a member of the Indiana Society for Public Health Education (InSOPHE) and a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®).

Meet Kayla