Youth and young adult E-cigarette use increased more than 10-fold within the last decade. Harmless, right? I mean, they aren’t cigarettes. They are much safer, right?
I’m not trying to be killjoy, but this one needs a serious look. Especially since it is so popular with teens and young adults. This post will give you good reason and tactics to try to curb e-cigarette AND traditional cigarette use. I will also offer ways to encourage and support someone who embarks on the journey toward quitting.
Reason #1 to stop using vape pens:
Vaping pen increases the chances of starting traditional cigarette use over time.
Early e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction can harm brain development and increase the risk of young people smoking cigarettes.
2. The doses of nicotine are amplified with the use of vape pens
[A] study found that 63 percent of JUUL users did not know that the product always contains nicotine, even though all types of JUUL sold on the market, including mint, mango, creme brulee and cool cucumber flavors, have nicotine in them. In fact, a single JUUL cartridge is equal in nicotine content to an entire pack of cigarettes.
3. The contents of the various liquids are not standardized, so longterm safety is in question.
4. Masking feelings with dependence is as unhealthy as downing a double cheese burger, fries and a milkshake when your emotions are riding high. It may feel good in the moment, but unchecked, this practice will harm you.
5. Even if you are an adult, people are influenced by what they see. Whether you have 10,000 followers or 10 friends, you are an influencer. I take that responsibility seriously. If I stop smoking or vaping and that leads someone else to do the same, we all win.
So that friend, coworker or loved one has been saying no for years. So what? Studies show people do still quit, even after many MANY years or smoking.
Also, for those grandparents or parents who smoke and tell you that it is fine because the do it outside, remind them of this:
It’s not just about smoking near the baby or children. The sediment on your clothing can be harmful.
Asthma, allergies and even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are all more common in households of smokers even when direct smoke exposure is restricted. Clothing can be to blame.
There are stages of quitting. Just because you want that person to quit doesn’t mean they are ready to do so. Asking them to quit, offering love and support throughout the process and reminding them of the benefits of quitting can help sometimes. Every cancer risk is higher with smoking. Life expectancy goes down with smoking. Skin ages faster as well.
What if that person does say that they are ready? How can you help?
Borrowing from Cancer.org, here are some do’s and don’ts for friends and loved ones:
Do respect that the quitter is in charge. This is their lifestyle change and their challenge, not yours.
Do ask the person whether they want you to ask regularly how they’re doing. Ask how they’re feeling – not just whether they’ve stayed quit.
Do let the person know that it’s OK to talk to you whenever they need to hear encouraging words.
Do help the quitter get what they need, such as hard candy to suck on, straws to chew on, and fresh veggies cut up and kept in the refrigerator.
Do spend time doing things with the quitter to keep their mind off smoking – go to the movies, take a walk to get past a craving (what many call a “nicotine fit”), or take a bike ride together.
Do try to see it from the smoker’s point of view – a smoker’s habit may feel like an old friend that’s always been there when times were tough. It’s hard to give that up.
Do make your home smoke free, meaning that no one can smoke in any part of the house.
Do remove all lighters and ash trays from your home. Remove anything that reminds them of smoking
Do wash clothes that smell like smoke. Clean carpets and drapes. Use air fresheners to help get rid of the tobacco smells – and don’t forget the car, too.
Do help the quitter with a few chores, some child care, cooking – whatever will help lighten the stress of quitting.
Do celebrate along the way. Quitting smoking is a BIG DEAL!
Don’t doubt the smoker’s ability to quit. Your faith in them reminds them they can do it.
Don’t judge, nag, preach, tease, or scold. This may make the smoker feel worse about him or herself. You don’t want your loved one to turn to a cigarette to soothe hurt feelings.
Don’t take the quitter’s grumpiness personally during their nicotine withdrawal. Tell them that you understand the symptoms are real and remind them that they won’t last forever. The symptoms usually get better in about 2 weeks.
Don’t offer advice. Just ask how you can help with the plan or program they are using.
If your ex-smoker “slips”
Don’t assume that they will start back smoking like before. A “slip” (taking a puff or smoking a cigarette or 2) is pretty common when a person is quitting.
Do remind the quitter how long they went without a cigarette before the slip.
Do help the quitter remember all the reasons they wanted to quit, and help them forget about the slip as soon as possible.
Do continue to offer support and encouragement. Remind them they’re still a “quitter” – NOT a smoker.
Don’t scold, tease, nag, blame, or make the quitter feel guilty. Be sure the quitter knows that you care about them whether or not they smoke.
If your quitter relapses
Research shows that most people try to quit smoking several times before they succeed. (It’s called a relapse when smokers go back to smoking like they were before they tried to quit.) If a relapse happens, think of it as practice for the next time. Don’t give up your efforts to encourage and support your loved one. If the person you care about fails to quit or starts smoking again:
Do praise them for trying to quit, and for whatever length of time (days, weeks, or months) of not smoking.
Do remind your loved one that they didn’t fail – they are learning how to quit – and you’re going to be there for them the next time and as many times as it takes.
Do encourage them to try again. Don’t say, “If you try again…” Say, “When you try again…” Studies show that most people who don’t succeed in quitting are ready to try again in the near future.
Do encourage them to learn from the attempt. Things a person learns from a failed attempt to quit may help them quit for good next time. It takes time and skills to learn to be a non-smoker.
Do say, “It’s normal to not succeed the first few times you try to quit. Most people understand this, and know that they have to try to quit again. You didn’t smoke for (length of time) this time. Now you know you can do that much. You can get even further next time.”
It’s a new year. Embrace a new you. Add value to someones life and don’t give up hope that they will one day quit. It’s not about being pushy or naggy either. It is about loving that person enough to remind them that there is a healthier way to live.
As always, thanks for reading and following The Gyneco-bLogic!
Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald is a board certified OBGYN. She began practicing medicine in 2007 and now uses her extensive knowledge and growing following to increase health awareness in a fun and viral way. She is the founder of The Gyneco-blogic and an author of numerous books for adult and childhood health education and social growth. For more, check me, I mean her out at dreverywoman.com