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Vapers: You Might Be Fooling Yourselves

Vapers: You Might Be Fooling Yourselves

By Cheryl Steinberg

I know a lot of people who are into the vaping scene and therefore, I know a lot of people aren’t going to be happy to hear that e-cigarettes and vapes are not without health risk.

Touted as a ‘healthy alternative’ to traditional combustible cigarettes, electronic vaporizers caught on like wildfire. But, it’s too soon to say just how much better – if at all – vapes are when compared to their old-school smokable version.

A new risk assessment report from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health says that there are health risks associated with vapes, and not just for those who partake in vaping; bystanders – much like those who inhale secondhand cigarette smoke – may be at risk from secondhand vape smoke.

Now, just to be clear, what we’re talking about in this article are the vapes and e-cigs that contain nicotine, like cigarettes. The report has only considered e-cigarettes with nicotine since there has been very little research about nicotine-free e-cigs. But the report was clear in its conclusions that e-cigarettes are not without health risks for people who vape or for bystanders.

Vapers: You Might Be Fooling Yourselves

Because vapes and e-cigarettes deliver the same amount of nicotine to users as cigarettes do to smokers, it’s safe to say that the same harmful effects from nicotine can be expected in people who vape.

Furthermore, the vapor from e-cigs and vaporizers contains so much nicotine that people who are nearby can also inhale the same amount as with secondhand tobacco smoke. This can be a trigger for addiction to nicotine.

As far as we know, however, e-cigs are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, with regards to cancer but the health risks of long-term use of vapes and e-cigs use are unknown.

“In Norway, it is mainly smokers and former smokers who use e-cigarettes. The question is if this will still be the case if e-cigarettes become more accessible. It is important to avoid e-cigarettes becoming a trend among adolescents and young adults, or to introduce non-smokers to nicotine addiction and tobacco use,” says Dr. Camilla Stoltenberg, Director-General at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).

Caveats of the Research

  • Admittedly, e-cigs and vapes simply have not been around long enough in order for researchers to really get a good idea on the potential risks and the extent to which these risks can go.
  • The NIPH’s risk assessment is mainly based on evaluation of the individual components of e-cigarettes. There is a wide range of e-cigarette types, with varying content of nicotine and other ingredients.
  • Differing types and usage patterns will influence potential health damage. If e-cigarettes are allowed to be sold in Norway, their use and possible adverse effects should be monitored by research.

Banning Vaping in Public

In Portland, Maine’s largest city, they’re not taking this sort of news lightly. Currently, the city is considering imposing a ban on the use of e-cigarettes and vapes in public spaces.

The Portland City Council will hold a meeting next week in order to discuss and make its consideration of whether to place e-cigarettes and other devices that allow the user to inhale vapors on its list of tobacco products that are banned in public areas.

Last month, the city’s Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee unanimously supported the ban.

There have been some recent stories discussing the concern of the unknown risks of vape smoke and, perhaps as a safeguard to those who choose not to vape – just like with traditional smokers and non-smokers – towns and cities have begun to consider bans on public vaping.

In fact, dozens of places have established restrictions on e-cigarettes and vaping in public and The World Health Organization issued a report calling for restrictions on the indoor use of e-cigs and vapes.

Electronic cigarettes and vapes can be a pathway to breaking the chains of your nicotine addiction. However, there’s still some debate whether they serve more as a tool for those who are already addicted to cigarettes or as products that could undermine efforts to discourage tobacco use. If you abuse other substances, we can help you overcome the cycle of addiction and get on the road to recovery. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Save the Hipsters: The Anti-Smoking Campaign

Save the Hipsters: The Anti-Smoking Campaign

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Quitting smoking is now cool, or maybe it already was and you didn’t know… either way some people will go out of their way to let you know they quit cigarettes prior to it even being a thing. They may be wearing a thrift store fedora, colorfully patterned suspenders, or a beard of epic proportions… but that’s neither here nor there.

While anti-smoking has come a long way as far as getting tobacco put on new restrictions in (or being completely taken out of) several forms of media for advertising, it seemed for a while that the battle was changing hands to those fighting for the right to vape.

Now one campaign has been deliberately aimed at those who are just too cool to smoke anymore; Hipsters. And yes, your nifty vintage corn-cob pipe counts! So park your fixed-geared bikes and put on your Buddy Holly glasses (even though you read just fine without them) because this is for YOU, guy so cool you don’t even want to be the cool guy!

The ‘Commune’ Campaign

In the past few years this emergent trend has formed as the federal government has spent millions of dollars on an anti-smoking campaign that has apparently been designed to hone in on the indie-art-loving, abstract-instrument-playing, different-than-anyone-being hipster! The project defines the ever so alpha-trendy “hipster” as young adults who are:

“Focused on the alternative music scene, local artists and designers, and eclectic self-expression.”

These people know what they’re doing too, as they have intended to target the hipster exactly where it hurts, developing ads that recommend alternatives to using tobacco like:

  • Styling your sweet mustache
  • Listening to music no one else has heard of

The project is called Commune, which is described as a “social brand” created by a former MTV Real World cast member, Pamela Ling with the help of Rescue Social Change Group. Ling is a bit more than a former reality TV hipster, but has actually become a medical professor at the University of California San Francisco. The Commune project works by employing tactics focused where hipsters are most vulnerable, such as:

  • Hosting smoke-free live music concerts
  • Paying local artists to create anti-smoking merchandise
  • Encouraging social leaders (DJs and bartenders) to document their progress with quitting smoking on blogs

The Commune campaign has been granted more than $5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2011. All that funding has been used for social events, ads, social media posters, and t-shirts.

If hipsters love anything more than vintage cameras or sarcasm, it is free music, ironic local band T-shirts (preferably with cat pictures), or writing about it all on their blog to document the fact they were doing things before the masses caught on.

Commune also has an area on their website dedicated to uniting the hipsters! In the segment about ‘Quit Groups’ they describe how 15 locals meet up for 10 weeks hoping to decrease their smoking rates and eventually quit using. In these support groups smoking rates are measured using a smokerlyzer, which is a device that measures the carbon monoxide levels in their lungs.

Each week a participant’s smoking rate decreases they’re awarded a cash incentive.  At certain intervals, smoking is also measured using a saliva test strip. Through this process a local smoking counselor is also available at some weekly meetings to answer any questions. Warning, he may or may not be cooler than you.

Pointing Out Hipster Politics

The hipster-inspired anti-smoking movement doesn’t just stop its infiltration of the hipster psyche with music and fashion. Commune also has close connections to the ideas of progressive politics, criticizing “neoconservative political candidates” for taking donations from Big Tobacco. The Commune’s website doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to blaming Big Tobacco for contributions to some of the world’s biggest issues, stating that the tobacco industry is involved in:

“things like world hunger, deforestation and neoconservative policies.”

However there has been some blow-back from Commune making these kinds of claims, some even calling it hypocritical since in 2004 there was a NIH study which determined that both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have accepted contributions from the tobacco industry. Apparently some hipsters are willing to do their homework.

Why even get involved in the debate? Well according to Pamela Ling, hipsters are more likely to respond to political concerns than health concerns. In 2010 she said in an article that,

“Saying ‘Smoking is bad for you’ isn’t relevant to them. But they do care about self-expression and social justice.”

Regardless of the hiccup with politics, the NIH has recently defended this strategy. To them, the project is about more than immediate results, but also about developing a method of social marketing intervention to hinder Big Tobacco from catering to young adults, and to further promote prevention of smoking related diseases in America. Not just for the here-and-now hipsters, but for future generations of vegan-loving, mustache-curling, arts-and-crafts-making cool kids.

It can’t be a bad thing that they have started this whole movement that feels almost like it should be called ‘save the hipsters’ in an effort to try and ensure that vinyl albums and oversized scarfs will be sold for years to come. This shows that the people fighting Big Tobacco are willing to be innovative and open-minded to unique ideas, and that they have made the younger population are primary target for tobacco related disease prevention.

For now… for just one repost of this blog… you can help save the hipsters.

Disease prevention and raising awareness about the health risks associated with drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, is increasing important. Fighting the disease of addiction is probably more important than ever, so what are you willing to do to inspire change for yourself and others. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

More Bad News for People Who Vape

More Bad News for People Who Vape

By Cheryl Steinberg

Electronic cigarettes and vapes are a booming business and a fast-growing trend, having become a $2 billion per year industry since 2007. The main selling point of electronic smoking devices is that they are a safer alternative to traditional smoking. Now, that may be true but, only to the extent that getting hit in the head with a baseball bat is safer than being thrown off of a building; it doesn’t mean that e-cigs are actually safe.

There has already been some debate and preliminary research as to just how “safe” the ingredients, namely glycerin oil and formaldehyde, are given that the user inhales these through a device that heats the oil to an extreme temperature. In fact, more and more the use of vapes and e-cigs inside buildings and public spaces are being banned – an indication that there is concern of harms from second-hand smoke, just like with traditional cigarettes.

More Bad News for People Who Vape

Now, a new paper published in PLOS ONE by lead author Thomas Sussan from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that mice that were exposed to e-cig vapor had weaker immune systems than those mice that were not exposed to it.

“Our findings suggest that e-cigarettes are not neutral in terms of the effects on the lungs,” senior author Shyam Biswal said in a press release. “We have observed that they increase the susceptibility to respiratory infections in the mouse models. This warrants further study in susceptible individuals, such as COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] patients who have switched from cigarettes to e-cigarettes or to new users of e-cigarettes who may have never used cigarettes.”

The study looked at two groups of mice: one group was exposed to vapor from electronic cigarettes for two weeks, and the other breathed only fresh air. Next, each group – the vape-exposed one and the fresh air one – was separated into subgroups. The first group was exposed to Influenza A, the next was exposed to the pneumonia-causing bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, and the third group was not given any illness-causing microbes.

The mice that had been exposed to the vapor from the e-cigs had infections that were much more severe than the mice from the fresh air-breathing group, indicating a weakened immune response. For some of the mice, these infections were fatal. Further investigation into the mice revealed physiological changes that had taken place in them.

“E-cigarette vapor alone produced mild effects on the lungs, including inflammation and protein damage,” Sussan explained. “However, when this exposure was followed by a bacterial or viral infection, the harmful effects of e-cigarette exposure became even more pronounced. The e-cigarette exposure inhibited the ability of mice to clear the bacteria from their lungs, and the viral infection led to increased weight loss and death indicative of an impaired immune response.”

Sussan added, “We were surprised by how high that number was, considering that e-cigarettes do not produce combustion products. Granted, it’s 100 times lower than cigarette smoke, but it’s still a high number of free radicals that can potentially damage cells.”

Free radicals in the body can alter DNA and have cancer-causing effects. With ordinary cigarettes, the smoker inhales toxins (400 to be exact, with 60 of those being known carcinogens), whereas electronic cigarettes produce a nicotine aerosol vapor that is inhaled by users. As for the lack of burning that takes place with traditional cigarettes, which can prevent some chemicals from being released, there are still a number of free radicals being introduced into the body via e-cigs and vapes.

Obviously, more study is needed on this subject in order to fully understand the effect of e-cigarettes on the user’s health as well as those who are exposed to second-hand vapor, and how it could contribute to disease. E-cigs and vapes hit the market about seven years ago, quickly becoming popular people wanting to quit smoking as well as with former smokers of traditional cigarettes. In 2013, it was reported that more teenagers had tried e-cigarettes than had tried traditional cigarettes, making it incredibly important to know what the real risks are, especially to young users.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is just a phone call away. We have Addiction Specialists available 24/7 to answer your questions, share resources, and get you pointed in the right direction. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 today.

More Possible Bad News for Vapers

More Possible Bad News for Vapers

Vaping has become quite the popular trend and many believe it is a safe and healthy alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. As more and more comes to light about e-cigs and how they work, however, there are some important things to consider.

Well, there’s more possible bad news for vapers.

Many people point to all the harmful chemical additives in cigarettes (nearly 600 additives, 69 of which are known to cause cancer) and claim that e-cigs and vapes don’t have them, making them safer. However, when it comes to electronic cigarettes, a battery-powered device heats a liquid solution (e-liquid) of nicotine and various flavors, creating an aerosol. This is inhaled to simulate the physical sensation of smoking hence the term “vaping.”

We’ve written about potential dangers associated with vaping, specifically regarding the glycerin and propylene glycol that are used as solvents in the e-liquid and how they are converted to carbonyls, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in embalming fluid, building materials and some medicines and cosmetics. It can also be produced as a byproduct of cooking and smoking. Formaldehyde is a known cancer-causing agent in humans (and rats) and is found in cigarette smoke. But, it’s also found in the vaporized liquid of the ever-more popular electronic cigarette.

According to an analysis published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the exposure to formaldehyde from e-cigarettes, when based on similar chronic use as regular tobacco cigarettes, could be five to 15 times higher than from smoking cigarettes. Yikes!

The problem with arriving at any definitive answer as to just how detrimental vapes are to the health of the user, is that any such evidence won’t show up until years from now.

“It’s way too early now from an epidemiological point of view to say how bad they are,” said co-author James F. Pankow, professor of chemistry and engineering at Portland State University in Oregon. “But the bottom line is, there are toxins and some are more than in regular cigarettes. And if you are vaping, you probably shouldn’t be using it at a high-voltage setting.”

Pankow adds, “A lot of people make the assumption that e-cigarettes are safe and they are perfectly fine after using for a year. The hazards of e-cigarettes, if there are any, will be seen 10 to 15 years from now when they start to appear in chronic users.”

Pankow and his colleagues analyzed the aerosol e-liquid in what’s known as “tank system” e-cigarettes in order to look for formaldehyde-releasing agents in “hidden” form at various voltages.

The findings should concern those who regularly use these vapes. Researchers found that vaping 3 milligrams of e-cigarette liquid at a high voltage can generate 14 milligrams of “hidden” formaldehyde. Furthermore, the researchers estimated a traditional cigarette smoker gets 0.15 milligrams of formaldehyde per cigarette, or 3 milligrams in a 20-pack.

And this “may be conservative,” says Pankow.

“We are not saying e-cigarettes are more hazardous than cigarettes,” he said. “We are only looking at one chemical. … The jury is really out on how safe these drugs are.”

“The difference in e-cigarettes is the material that is heated and turns into hot gas as it cools is not tobacco, but two main chemicals,” he said. “When it gets really hot, unwanted reactions occur.”

Therefore, formaldehyde-containing chemical compounds can be released during the “vaping” process as the liquid is heated. Pankow said some e-cigarettes can burn hotter than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

What’s troubling is there already exists some evidence that shows just how bad formaldehyde is: when gaseous formaldehyde, found in funeral homes and other occupational settings, is inhaled, it breaks down in the mouth, nose, throat, and airways. Exposure has been linked to throat and nasal cancers and leukemias. This is supported by findings used by the American Cancer Society, which says that exposure to formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and has also been linked to some cancers in humans.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist, who understands your situation. We are available day and night to answer your questions and to help you figure out what steps to take next. Recovery is possible.

Study: Smokers Are Poor Decision-Makers

Study: Smokers Are Poor Decision-Makers

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

By Cheryl Steinberg

Regular smokers might, on whole, “make poor decisions and experience worse outcomes with personal finances,” according to a new study.

It’s pretty common knowledge that being a smoker puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to applying for things like health insurance and life insurance. By now, we know that smoking has adverse effects on our health, despite the prevalence of this stubborn habit.

But here’s a new twist – and perhaps yet another strike against people who smoke: smokers are poor decision-makers, especially when it comes to financial decisions.

Imagine this: someone – a friend or family member – comes to you asking you to lend them some money. All the usual questions come to mind: How well do I know So-and-so? How trustworthy are they? How likely do I think they will pay me back? Do they have a steady job?

Well, a new research study suggests that you might want to ask this seemingly unrelated question: Is So-and-so a smoker?

Study: Smokers Are Poor Decision-Makers

A research team led by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee economist Scott Adams examined two separate sets of data: one made up of 1,069 truck drivers in training, and another consisting of 2,071 participants in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

They then looked at basic key factors related to money management skills, such as credit scores, being denied credit, and maxing out credit cards. The researchers concluded that, when compared to non-smokers, people who smoke regularly, that is, on a daily basis, “make poor decisions and experience worse outcomes with personal finances.”

After conducting the study, the researchers reported in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization that the smoking habit “is negatively correlated with willingness to delay rewards and conscientiousness,” as well as that it has a unique “ability to predict behavior” when it comes to personal finances.

In other words, people who light up on the regular are more accustomed to giving in to instant gratification – rather than “delay[ing] rewards – as well as to do it without any real awareness. These characteristics appear to be directly correlated with how poorly someone spends and saves their money.

So, if a friend asks to borrow money. Remember to take into consideration whether they smoke or not. It could be the best predictor in whether they will pay you back or if they do, how long it might take to get that money back to you.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, or you suspect that a friend or family member is struggling, help is available. You can call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 day or night and be connected with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions and help you decide what’s next.

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