By Dr. Annette Zaharoff
You can’t turn on the TV or visit a news website without seeing something about dangers related to vaping. As of October 15, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed 33 deaths and more than 1,470 lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarettes. This is even more alarming considering that the first death linked to vaping was reported in August 2019.
E-cigarette is a catchall term that includes vapes, vape pens and e-cigarettes. Companies that make e-cigarettes have touted their product as a safer alternative to smoking traditional tobacco and nicotine cigarettes. These nicotine delivery systems vaporizes the liquid in the device allowing the user to inhale it and coat their lungs.
Why is this supposedly better? Because there is no smoke, just water vapor lined with whatever is in the vaping liquid, usually nicotine and a flavoring in the liquid, such as mint, fruit, chocolate or candy. These sweeteners have been credited with the surge popularity of e-cigarettes among children, so much so that the Food and Drug Administration labeled the problem an epidemic among young people.
E-cigarette manufacturers say the spate of lung-related illnesses and fatalities reported in recent months can be linked to “black market” vaping cartridges not sold in stores, that contain THC, the active psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Yet even before the first fatality was reported, health officials warned that e-cigarettes were not necessarily a better alternative to smoking. The FDA found no e-cigarette is safe and effective as a tool for helping smokers to quit. Some e-cigarettes contain acrolein, which can cause irreversible lung damage.
Many surveys and studies show more than half of all smokers want to quit, but are hampered by their nicotine addiction. Tobacco use is a preventable cause of death and chronic disease in this nation, responsible for more than 480,000 deaths annually from direct use and second-hand smoke, according to the CDC. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers.
So if vaping is not the answer to getting off cigarettes, then what is? The best advice is to start by talking to a health care provider, including a physical therapist. A 2012 study published in the peer-reviewed journal “Physical Therapy” found health care providers, including physical therapists, can play a key role in intervening and counseling smokers to quit.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends that all patients who smoke should be offered options to promote cessation, such as nicotine replacement therapy (such as nicotine patches), social support, and skills training, including nutritional counseling and physical activity.
By working with a doctor and / or physical therapist on a health plan for smoking cessation, a smoker can develop a winning strategy for quitting. There is evidence that exercise and other physical therapy interventions, such as yoga and stretching, can stimulate the release of endorphins that curb severe nicotine withdrawal symptoms – cravings, mood swings and more. A healthy exercise plan also can curb the weight gain that often accompanies smoking cessation efforts.
Physical therapy also can help a patient develop a sense of confidence, which aids in achieving the goal. Setting a goal date for stopping smoking, such as an anniversary or birthday, also helps with the positive mental outlook. Studies also show that acupuncture is another natural way to help smokers reduce their urges, or quit altogether.
The best way to stop smoking is to never start, but for the millions of Americans who want to quit, the first best step is to talk with health care provider. Get started on an active game plan for putting down the lighter, and getting on with life.
Dr. Annette “Dr. Z” Zaharoff heads the Non-Surgical Center of Texas, focusing on non-surgical treatments to relieve pain and repair injuries. A former professional tennis player who competed on the WTA circuit, Dr. Zaharoff has been utilizing regenerative injection treatments including Stem Cell Therapy, PRP Injection Therapy and Prolotherapy for more than a decade. Learn more about her at www.drzmd.com. You can follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DrZaharoff.