As we all work to establish new work routines, care for seniors from a distance, and create academic supports for youth at home, the threat of COVID-19's respiratory-related symptoms have generated new concerns in almost every home. Awareness of youth and adult vaping may be more acute than ever, and as adults and youth are spending more time at home with limited outlets for exercise and social interaction, stress can quickly escalate. With COVID-19 an ever-present threat, the Community Impact Team, in partnership with the Massachusetts Tobacco-Free Community Partnerships would like to offer some resources and information on how you can support others to quit smoking or vaping. It may be more important now than ever.
You may be wondering if a history of smoking or vaping can increase risk to COVID-19 symptoms. Data currently does not indicate that those that smoke or vape are more likely to contract COVID-19. However, doctors and health professionals have expressed an abundance of caution indicating that pre-existing conditions, compromised immunity, decreased respiratory capacity, and lung disease (among other conditions) are contributing factors that lead to a decreased ability of a person to fight the symptoms of COVID-19. Recently, Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse explained, "Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape." She continued, "It is therefore reasonable to be concerned that compromised lung function or lung disease related to smoking history, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), could put people at risk for serious complications of COVID-19.Vaping, like smoking, may also harm lung health."
E-cigarettes produce an aerosol, commonly called vapor, which users inhale from the device and exhale. This aerosol may have harmful and potentially harmful substances. It also means that others around you, such as seniors or those with existing lung challenges, may inhale your vapor, putting them at risk as well. E-cigarettes use pre-filled pods or e-liquids/e-juices that are added to the device. E-liquids generally consist of propylene glycol, glycerin, water, nicotine, and flavorings. Over time, these chemicals can build in the lungs as aerosol particles and could lead to negative health effects.
We know that prevention is key to helping kids prevent any addiction. Simply talking with your child about these products can help protect them. Adults and youth alike often have misconceptions about the safety of vaping or smoking. Let them know that you care about them and that vaping and smoking are not safe. Be patient and ready to listen; there is no" perfect time" to talk. Your goal is to have a conversation, not to deliver a lecture. Avoid criticism and encourage an open dialogue. You can start by mentioning something that you heard about vaping. We recommend fightflavoredecigs.org/tips-on-talking-to-your-kids/ to help you get started.
So how can you tell if someone is vaping? Unlike combustible cigarettes which have a distinct odor, many types of vapes are made to resemble everyday items and come in fruity, minty, and candy-like flavors. You may not recognize a vaping device or an e-liquid scent. However, there are often subtle signs that someone may be vaping. If you notice a sweet scent that is unexplainable, it might be a flavored e-juice for a vaping device. Finding unusual looking items such as unusual pens, mouth pieces, USB drives, an unfamiliar battery or battery charging device, they could be associated with vaping. In addition, irritability, struggles with focusing, shaking, and trouble sleeping are all potential signs of nicotine withdrawal.
If you feel that you'd like to encourage a youth to quit smoking or vaping, there are medically-based treatments for youth. Boston Children's Hospital, Boston Medical Center, and Massachusetts General Hospital all offer customized nicotine cessation programs for youth, and they may be entirely or partially covered by insurance. To access these programs, please contact North Reading Mental Health/Substance Abuse Clinician Laura Miranda at (978)357-5038 (expect a call back) or email her at email@example.com.
In addition, there are currently two free digital programs available in Massachusetts to help youth and young adults quit vaping, smoking or using other tobacco products. "This is Quitting" powered by truth® is a texting program for young people who want to quit vaping. It is a free, confidential 30-day program during which youth receive texts with information, tips, and support. They receive daily text messages to help them prepare to quit and supportive texts from young people who have been through the program. To enroll in the program, youth text "VapeFreeMass" to 88709. Go to mass.gov/quitvaping to learn more. My Life, My QuitTM is a specially designed program to help young people quit vaping or other tobacco products. My Life, My QuitTM provides five free and confidential coaching sessions by phone, live texting, or chat with specially-trained youth coach specialists. Youth can text "Start My Quit" to 855-891-9989 or call toll-free 1-855-891-9989 for real-time coaching. They can also visit mylifemyquit.com learn more.
In addition, adults can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to connect with the Massachusetts Smokers' Helpline. The Helpline is a free and confidential service for Massachusetts residents who want help to end their nicotine and tobacco use. If you are looking to quit tobacco, you can now get help from a quit coach over the phone; or use online tools and resources; or a combination of these online features and telephone coaching. You can also enroll online using a computer or smartphone at KeepTryingMA.org.
The world of nicotine, smoking and vaping is constantly changing. Staying informed is important. Here are some online resources below. You can also contact North Reading Drug-Free Communities Director Amy Luckiewicz at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or visit: