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E-cigs: The Gateway Drug

E-cigarettes: a new, safe alternative to regular cigarettes. A great way to quit smoking. A lot healthier for your body than inhaling gross, thick cigarette smoke. Not addictive, and way less nicotine.

Right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, aaaaand wrong… yep, all of that is WRONG.

But unfortunately, that seems to be what everyone thinks. E-cigs are marketed to make people think that they aren’t as bad as cigarettes. This new industry wants to make people think they are a “new, safe alternative,” and they want cigarette smokers to start using e-cigs when they attempt to “quit.”

E-cigs are battery powered smoking devices that are designed to look and feel like regular cigarettes. They have cartridges filled with liquid that contains nicotine, flavorings (fruity, chocolate, mint, whatever), and other chemicals that aren’t good for you. The e-cig heats up and the heat turns the liquid into a vapor, which is then breathed into the lungs.

Because of the way e-cig companies make their product come across, people who don’t do their RESEARCH are convinced that they’re not so bad for you. And, sadly, most people aren’t seeming to do their research. The e-cig industry is growing… and they are especially popular among teenagers.

Sure, when you smoke an e-cig, you aren’t breathing smoke into your lungs, which is why people think they’re so much better. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t breathing all kinds of other garbage into your lungs. With e-cigs, you are still putting just as much nicotine in your system as with cigarettes.

Here’s what nicotine does to you:

  • affects your brain
  • affects your nervous system
  • affects your heart and heart rate, and puts you at risk for heart failure
  • puts you at risk for getting blood clots
  • puts you at risk for getting stomach ulcers

Nicotine is also SUPER addictive. If you try it, even once or twice, you will crave it. And when you have a craving, you can become depressed and feel really tired. It can also be toxic and kill you if you have too much.

Researchers have done tons of studies on e-cigs and teenagers, and they have found that teens who smoke e-cigs are MUCH more likely to smoke regular cigarettes (and vice versa) and become addicted to those, too; six times more likely, to be exact. They are usually even associated with causing teens who are just experimenting with cigarettes to become regular, established smokers. Basically, they’re a gateway drug.

So if you think that e-cigs will help with your temptation to try regular cigarettes, or that they’ll help you quit smoking… think again. They’re really no different.

If you or a friend are smoking e-cigs, or regular cigarettes, here are some things you can do to quit:

  • Make a plan. If you are currently smoking 10 times a day, try to smoke one less time per day until you’re not smoking at all. Or, quit altogether. Sit down with someone who will help hold you accountable, have them help you make a plan to quit, and then stick to it.
  • Stay busy. When you feel a craving coming on, try to distract yourself by doing something else. You won’t smoke if you’re too busy doing something else. You can try things like going for a run, going to a movie with friends (who don’t smoke), painting a picture, or writing a story. Whatever you enjoy!
  • Keep focused on why you want to quit. Remember how much money your addiction has been costing you? Remember how you feel when you walk up a flight of stairs, or run at practice? Remember all the things that are unhealthy about smoking?
  • Get support. Tell your friends that you really do want to quit, and ask them to encourage you to stay strong whenever you get the urge. Ask a couple people if you can call or text them every time you get the urge, and they can help keep you accountable. Things like this are way easier when you don’t have to do it all yourself.
  • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. This is a totally free hotline where professionals are available 24/7 to help you with your addiction. They can help you come up with a plan, give you tips on how to quit, and tell you all about WHY you should quit.

Smoking may seem “cool,” and e-cigs may appear to be a better alternative. But really, just take care of your body and stay away from them.

Smoking Isn’t Cool

Lets be real… smoking is gross. I mean, really, what’s good about it? Your friends might do it, you might think it makes you “cool,” it might give you a little buzz. But here’s what’s bad about it. It will:

  • decrease your physical fitness
  • increase your chances of getting cancer… no, not just lung cancer. Also throat, stomach, and bladder cancer
  • increase your chances of getting infections like bronchitis and pneumonia
  • increase your chances of getting sick
  • give you wrinkles
  • turn your teeth yellow
  • decrease your bone density
  • it could affect your sexual health… girls who are on birth control and smoke increase their risk of serious health problems, like heart attacks
  • give you bad breath
  • give you bad skin
  • make your clothes and hair smell bad
  • reduce your athletic performance
  • increase your risk of injury, and cause you to have a slower healing time
  • increase your risk of emphysema (breakdown of lung tissues)
  • increase your risk of heart disease
  • shorten your life by 10 years or more
  • cost you around $1,000 a year if you smoke everyday… imagine what you can do with $1,000!

That’s a lot of terrible stuff. So why do people do it?

Children and teens usually start smoking because they think it’ll make them look “cool and grown up,” or their friends peer pressure them into doing it. Kids who see a lot of smoking advertisements and see a lot of smoking in movies are also more likely to do it.

The sad thing is, most people who start smoking start as kids or teens. Studies show that among adults who smoke, 68% started smoking regularly at age 18 or younger, and 85% start at age 21 or younger. Everyday in the United States, around 3,900 children and teens try their first cigarette… about 950 of them will become regular, daily smokers, and half of them will ultimately die from it.

People who start smoking at an earlier age are also more likely to develop a severe addiction than people who start smoking later in life. They also have even greater health risks. Not that you should smoke at ANY point in your life, but you should know that smoking as an adolescent is even worse than smoking as an adult.

Once you start smoking, it’s hard to quit because of nicotine. Nicotine is an extremely addicting drug, and your body and mind can become so used to it that they need it to feel normal. Nicotine and all the other chemicals in cigarettes are POISONS. They break down your body and can kill you in high doses.

If you think that hookahs, e-cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco are all safer alternatives to cigarettes… you’re wrong. None of those things are any better for you than cigarettes.

Really guys, smoking isn’t cool. It’s dangerous and disgusting. In the U.S., 1 in 5 deaths is caused by smoking… that’s 20%. Do you realize how huge that is? Just don’t even try one cigarette… you don’t want to go there.

A Hookah Habit

Everybody knows that smoking cigarettes is really bad for you, so instead some young people have turned to smoking Hookah. Fox 12 Oregon reports that Hookah is a type of tobacco that comes in fun flavors, such as Mango Tango and Skittles. Many teens believe that this flavored tobacco has little or no nicotine in it, there for it is not addictive. Wrong, it does contain nicotine and is addictive. In fact the World Heath Organization reports that a typical Hookah session equals the amount of smoke in 100 cigarettes.

The majority of Hookah smokers are young teenage girls. Hookah is being marketed to young girls by using appealing flavors. One young lady stated that she smokes Hookah because it tastes good. No matter what you call it, it is still smoking and still unhealthy.

Time To Talk Turkey

In honor of Thanksgiving I thought we could talk turkey. Talking turkey is defined as follows, “to speak frankly and get down to the basic facts of a matter.” So lets talk turkey about smoking. My father smoked for over 60 years and after a long stay in the hospital a few years back he finally decided to quit. All his years of smoking have left him with a lot of health problems,the most severe being  his heart. Last year he suffered a heart attack and had to have a quadruple bypass as well as a valve replacement.  I do not want this to be you. So here are some facts to help you make a better choice before you head down that road.

When you use tobacco you are increasing your chances of getting cancer and other life threatening disease (stoke, heart disease and bronchitis). The chances are increased due to the fact that your body is still growing and the chemicals in the cigarettes affect your bodies normal development. Besides the poisons in cigarettes, nicotine is very addictive and can be very hard to quit. Smoking at your age can lead to more problems the older you get like wrinkles, gray hair, hair loss, and the inability to participate in activities because you can’t breathe. Most teens are not using tobacco products, but of the ones that are nearly a third of them will die from tobacco related diseases. These facts were found in Tips For Teens: Tobacco.

If you are a smoker and are thinking about quitting, TeenQuit.com might be helpful to you. Find the support you need to kick this habit and have a Happy Turkey Day!