Vaping, e-cigarettes also harmful
Dr. Cameual Wright, Guest Writer
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, proper lung health is more crucial than ever, as patients with pre-existing lung disease are more likely to face detrimental effects from the virus. However, a new trend sweeping across the country in recent years puts this critical organ at risk: vaping and e-cigarettes.
Vaping is the inhaling of a vapor created by an electronic cigarette or other vaping device. An electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, as they’re commonly called, are battery powered smoking devices. They have cartridges filled with a liquid that usually has nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals added. The liquid is heated into a vapor, which the user then inhales. Thus, comes the familiar term “vaping.”
Many may think that vaping is less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes because e-cigarettes don’t include the harmful tar of traditional cigarettes. This myth has led to false information being passed around and an increase in e-cigarette consumption, particularly in adolescents and throughout the state of Indiana.
According to the Truth Initiative’s Fact Sheet, in 2017, 17.1% of adult Americans used cigarettes. In Indiana, that number was higher at 21.8%. Despite restrictions such as tobacco taxes, clean indoor air ordinances and youth access laws, Indiana still fares far worse in regard to vaping and e-cigarette usage than other states.
As one of the largest groups using e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, teens are at a higher risk for developing serious side effects related to these products. E-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine. In fact, one Juul pod can have as much nicotine packed into it as 20 traditional cigarettes. During adolescence, the brain is still in a state of development, and such high levels of nicotine could cause serious developmental consequences. Vaping and e-cigarette consumption have been linked to severe damage to the lungs and sometimes even death.
Popular brands such as Juul and the newer Posh Vapes draw teens and other young consumers in by offering a variety of appealing flavors and color options. The minimum age to purchase tobacco products in Indiana is 21, but that doesn’t seem to stop teenagers from getting their hands on these products on a frequent basis.
We know that COVID-19 heavily impacts the respiratory system and lung health, and the virus can have even more damaging effects to those who have pre-existing health issues. Vaping and e-cigarettes put users at risk for developing serious lung conditions. Therefore, they become more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19 as they’re less equipped to fight off the pulmonary effects of the virus.
Another COVID-19-related concern is that as people stress about the pandemic, they’re more likely to turn to tobacco products to ease their anxiety. It’s important now more than ever to stay vigilant about our mental health.
If someone you love is struggling to quit vaping, have an open and honest discussion with them and try to understand the motivation behind their usage. There are common misconceptions that e-cigarettes are not harmful. Bring valid information and even stories about the consequences of vaping to the conversation. Creating a safe space to have these discussions is crucial to a productive and healthy conversation.
Because vaping and e-cigarettes are an issue for Hoosiers, the state has many different avenues and initiatives around quitting, such as the Quit Line and Quit Now Indiana. CareSource also has resources to help those trying to quit smoking and vaping. We offer incentives for cessation, as well as for using the Quit Line, and have resources to help those looking to quit find the proper services. We pay for tobacco cessation products, and we make it easy for you to work with your provider to find the best path forward.
Visit caresource.com to access these resources and get started with vaping and e-cigarette cessation today.
Editor’s note: Dr. Cameual Wright is the medical director at CareSource, a non-profit health plan.