NMC Commentary

Is It Important to Quit Vaping?

Yes, it is. This question has come up much more frequently as data comes forward about the harm vaping causes. The first case of “severe vaping-associated pulmonary illness” has been confirmed in Vermont, according to the Department of Health (VDH), and five other possible cases are being investigated. This is part of what has been termed a “multistate outbreak of lung disease associated with the use of e-cigarette products (devices, liquids, refill pods, cartridges).”

VDH has informed healthcare providers that “380 confirmed and probable cases and six deaths have been reported to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) from 36 states and one territory. All reported cases have a history of e-cigarette product use or vaping.”

Vermont’s Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mark Levine, said: “This is a serious disease that can be deadly. The only common link so far is vaping. Until we know more about the specific cause of these illnesses, we strongly recommend that if you vape – stop now. We have resources to help. And if you don’t vape – don’t start.”

VDH has shared that symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, may start gradually and may worsen over a period of days to weeks. Some patients have reported fever, chest pain, weight loss, nausea and diarrhea. Dr. Levine recommends that “If you have used e-cigarette products, and experience symptoms, seek medical care and tell your health care provider about your vaping history.”

Fortunately, free support to help quit vaping (as well as for quitting smoking cigarettes and other forms of tobacco use) is available throughout Vermont, easily accessible through 802Quits.org. Their website provides a broad range of information and access to support. It will walk you through the steps of creating a successful quit plan and how to access support by phone, in person, or online. In-person help is available here in our community through a partnership between Northwestern Counseling & Support Services (NCSS) and the Lifestyle Team at NMC. Each quit program offers free patches, gum, and lozenges. Their website points out that “tobacco use is highly addictive” and explains strategies to overcome cravings caused by nicotine withdrawal and how to identify and avoid things that trigger your urges to use tobacco. These kind of insights and supports are shown to increase individuals’ success in quitting, so please take advantage of all the help that is available. Please visit 802Quits.org for more information.

I am grateful that so much support is available to people who want to quit vaping and smoking and using other forms of tobacco. Avoiding it from the start is such a valuable step. Preventing an addiction is easier than recovering from one. I appreciate the steps Vermont’s Legislature and our Governor took last session regarding the regulation of e-cigarettes and I look forward to more progress on that front. I am proud of the local municipalities, businesses, and schools who have worked with the Franklin Grand Isle Tobacco Prevention Coalition and RiseVT to adopt policies and provide education that helps prevent tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke or vapor. We are fortunate to have smoke-free parks and worksites in our area and it is great to see more making that change. To get involved in prevention, reach out to Amy Brewer at [email protected] or 802 524-1296.

The slick marketing to push vaping has been strong across our country. The health impacts that we suspected and feared are now proving to be real. The time to quit is now and we can help. Please reach out. And, as Dr. Levine said, “if you don’t vape – don’t start.”

— Jill Berry Bowen, RN, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer