This year on May 31, World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is, calling for a 24-hour abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption. Ventura County Public Health (VCPH) is asking the community to join the effort to go tobacco free by sharing the smoke-free message with friends, family, classmates, co-workers and community members.
Smoke-free housing policies were born in California, as multi-unit complexes are home to large numbers of residents in one building. As the novel COVID-19 pandemic calls for precautions that keep vulnerable populations, including youth, at home, it is more important than ever to practice being smoke-free.
In these uncertain times, it is vital to protect yourself, your family, and those living around you. In multi-unit housing, the chances of being exposed to secondhand smoke, which impairs immune function, is much higher. Smoking and vaping harms the lungs, putting one at greater risk for a severe COVID-19 illness, if infected.
This year’s WNTD 2020 #Tobacco Exposed message focuses on ‘protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use’. “Most kids don’t realize that flavored e-cigarettes are high in nicotine,” said Robert Levin, MD. Health Officer for Ventura County. “Sweet flavors mask the harsh taste of tobacco, making it easier for kids to smoke.”
Tobacco Free California’s FlavorsHookKids.org reports teens are 7 times more likely to vape nicotine than adults, and 4 out of 5 kids who vape nicotine use flavors. As long as tobacco products are allowed to be flavored, they will continue to entice our kids to become the next generation of tobacco addicts.
“It is a common misconception among youth that e-cigarette vapor is safer to inhale. However, the vapor that causes the plume is an aerosol, not a vapor,” explained Levin “This aerosol contains toxins, and ultrafine particles with varying levels of toxicants and heavy metals that are emitted in the air and into the lungs.” Early research shows that using e-cigarettes can lead to lung disease, upper respiratory issues, increased blood pressure, nausea, and more.
Vaping is an ENDS, an electronic NICOTINE delivery system, which implies it is delivering nicotine to the brain. Nicotine is a powerful, mood-altering substance that is extremely toxic and addictive. “When taken in high doses, it is a poison, and two-three drops of pure nicotine can kill a person. It can disrupt the growth of brain circuits that control attention, learning, and susceptibility to addiction, increase risk of psychiatric disorders, cognitive impairment, and attention deficit,” said Levin.
Other chemicals found in e-cigarettes include Propylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze, Rubidium, found in fireworks, and ethylbenzene, found in pesticides and paint.
Local jurisdictions in Ventura County are making positive strides toward reducing access to vaping and flavored tobacco products to minors with new policies and programs. “These programs could add restrictions that limit youth access to vaping products and place a ban on flavored tobacco products, which would go a long way in deterring minors from flavored tobacco and tobacco addiction,” said Levin.
Ventura County Action on Smoking and Health (VC ASH), is a local coalition that is working on educating the public and sharing information on what we all can do to reduce secondhand smoke exposure, especially in our multi-unit housing, as well as combat the growing youth vaping epidemic.
“I urge parents and educators to watch out for warning signs that teens could be vaping, including personality shifts, depression, irritability and increased thirst,” said Levin. “With a little more time at home these days, look for opportunities to open a discussion with youth, ask open-ended questions and be ready with the facts and dangers of vaping.”
Visit SmokeFreeVC.org for more information and educational links. Connect on Facebook at Ventura County Action on Smoking & Health. If you are ready to quit smoking or vaping, call 805-201-STOP (7867).