A year that was dominated by COVID-19 has ended. This past year changed how we work, how we visit family, we found new hobbies and formed new habits.
But as we enter the new year, we are urging residents to say goodbye to one habit in particular and breathe in without vapor or tobacco products. We all know that some resolutions are kept and others are not, but if you only keep one this year we urge you to make it quitting nicotine products.
No tobacco products are safe, including cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, cigarillos, hookah, snuff, chew among others. Some are not only bad for your own health but also for your family’s, friends’ and pet’s health as well. After a year concerned about our respiratory and overall health, there’s no better why to make 2021 your year to be tobacco free.
Let’s talk about health
Tobacco effects every system in the body. It causes diseases that affect everyday life such as COPD, heart disease, stroke, asthma and ear infections and many more. Smokeless tobacco can cause receding gums resulting in lost teeth.
In addition to all these diseases, tobacco can also cause various cancers impacting the mouth, vital organs, brain, bone and vascular systems. Tobacco also affects the brain through nicotine. Nicotine, particularly in the youth’s underdeveloped brain, can damage the part that controls memory, attention, and learning, as well as mood and impulse control impacting the way the brain works which increases the risk for future addictions.
More recently, e-cigarette devices have become an increasing risk, especially for our youth. These devices contain high levels of nicotine, flavored nicotine liquids or nicotine salts, despite many beliefs they are nicotine free. Nicotine, found in tobacco products, is highly addictive in any form whether ingested, soaked through the skin or inhaled.
The Surgeon General report says it only takes 10 seconds for nicotine from one puff of smoke to reach the brain causing the release of a chemical in the brain called dopamine. This chemical is the “feel good chemical” that brings feelings of happiness and alertness. It is normally released during pleasurable activities such as exercise, eating food and sex. However, when one can find this release or “hit” in the form of a 10 second puff in a device that is easy to carry and comes in appealing flavors, this is where an addiction begins, and is particularly concerning in youth where these processes are still developing.
Furthermore, the risk doesn’t stop at the person inhaling or ingesting firsthand. Secondhand smoke or secondhand aerosol, including from vaping, exposes those around the user to thousands of chemicals. The vapor contains cancer causing chemicals, heavy metals, nicotine, volatile organic compounds and diacetyl, which is a chemical used to flavor food that is meant to be ingested and when inhaled, this compound has also been linked to serious lung disease.
In summation, anything that goes into your lungs, besides clean air, has health risks. The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act protects the public from secondhand smoke and aerosol in most indoor public places by prohibiting the use of vapor products or e-cigarettes and smoking tobacco in any form.
The health benefits to quitting tobacco
When you quit using tobacco, a large number of nicotine receptors in your brain return to normal levels. As a result, you might smell and taste better along with having a cleaner mouth.
Quitting can lower your blood pressure and heart rate decreasing your risk of a heart attack and you are less likely to develop a blood clot in your heart, brain, lungs, arms or legs. After two weeks, breathing usually becomes easier.
Tips to quit tobacco successfully
Quitting will not be easy and many will need a plan to assist with quitting. It is best practice to get help by talking to your doctor, using counseling services and medications such as nicotine replacement for success. You will need to have your plan in place for what to do when withdrawal from nicotine starts to happen, which can be unpleasant and can make you irritable.
Anyone trying to quit will have triggers that lead back to nicotine and the plan’s goal is to help you through these moments. If you have a setback, do not give up. Try again; it is important to your health and to those around you.
Residents 13 years of age and older can call the Nevada Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) from a Nevada area code to access a free, phone-based service or go to www.nevadatobaccoquitline.com for more information.
We wish you a happy and smoke-free New Year Carson City! For resources and information about Carson City Health and Human Services programs and services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org, “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cchhs, follow us on Twitter @CCHealthEd, call us at (775) 887-2190, or visit us at 900 East Long Street in Carson City.