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Family Health

Snuff Out Smoking and Vaping

The Great American Smokeout
 is an important event held annually on the 3rd Thursday of November (November 20 this year). Some smokers circle the date on their calendar as the day they’ll quit. Some former smokers volunteer in their community or workplace to help others quit. It’s a day to focus on stopping harmful tobacco use, and preventing people from picking up the unhealthy addiction.

As the Great American Smokeout approaches, we thought it would be a good idea to talk about the e-cigarette craze. Are e-cigarettes and vapes any better for your health? And do e-cigarettes and vaporizers keep people from smoking traditional cigarettes?

Not really on both counts.
E-cigarettes, which use a battery-powered heating element to warm a liquid solution of flavorings and nicotine and turn it to vapor, still carry toxic nicotine to the bloodstream. Nicotine is an addictive element that healthy people should avoid. Plus, a recent survey shows a link between youthful vaping and adult cigarette smoking.

Proponents of e-cigarettes claim they’re safer and essentially harmless.
Health professionals disagree and so does FitFamily.

A recent study by researchers from the University of California San Francisco found that middle and high school students who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become regular smokers of conventional cigarettes. The study, published March 6, 2014 in JAMA Pediatrics, looked at data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey conducted in 2011 and 2012. It also found that young people who used e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes were less likely to quit either product.

Last September, the CDC used data from the same survey to show that e-cigarette use among students in grades 6 through 12 more than doubled between 2011 and 2012, from 4.7% to 10% in high school students, and from 1.4% to 2.7% in middle school kids. More than 76% of e-cigarette users in the survey also reported smoking conventional cigarettes.

The new analysis of the survey found that adolescents who tried e-cigarettes and also tried conventional cigarettes were 6 times as likely to become regular smokers as those who had never tried e-cigarettes. That doesn’t prove that e-cigarettes turn kids into smokers, but it does point to e-cigarettes as a first step to a lifetime of smoking.

Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US. Nevertheless, about 1 in 5 adults still smoke – that’s about 42 million Americans. In addition, about 13.4 million Americans are cigar smokers, and another 2.3 million smoke tobacco in pipes.

Make November 20 the day you speak up against tobacco use and e-cigarettes in your family. Make it the day you quit and the day you help someone else stop too.  

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