U.S. Smoking Rate Hits New Low, But Vaping Rises

By | November 15, 2019

Beyond nicotine addiction, vaping also includes its own set of health hazards, noted Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

More than 2,000 cases of severe lung illness have been linked to vaping, and the CDC reported last week that one oily chemical — vitamin E acetate — has been found in fluid samples from the lungs of 29 vapers hospitalized in 10 states.

But the CDC has not ruled out the possibility that other compounds or ingredients might be contributing to the wave of vaping-related lung illness.

“Cigarette smoking has decreased in recent years, but vaping has had a dramatic increase with a variety of devices and the inclusion of substances besides nicotine, some known and unknown,” Horovitz said. “Recent vaping illnesses and deaths have brought to light chemical substances such as vitamin E acetate, diacetyl, formaldehyde and cyanide.”

Meanwhile, Taioli chalks up the successes against cigarette smoking to anti-tobacco advertising, tobacco taxes, increases in the legal age for buying cigarettes, and state and local smoking bans.

“The cities with the highest and most restrictive smoking bans are the ones with the lowest smoking rates,” she said.

People who want to quit shouldn’t rely on an e-cigarette to help, according to Hill of the lung association.

“Essentially, we don’t have a lot of evidence that electronic cigarettes are a smoking cessation product,” Hill said. “It’s really a switching product, where people are going from combustible cigarettes to e-cigarettes, and for youth it’s an entry product.”

Experts said smokers should instead reach out to their health care provider for support and help, including prescriptions for proven nicotine replacements.

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“Many patients express that they wish they did not have access to tobacco products,” said Christine Fardellone, a certified tobacco treatment specialist at Northwell Health’s Center for Tobacco Control in Great Neck, N.Y.

“Their lives are often filled with illness, regret, financial problems and the difficult experience of trying to quit tobacco use. Health care professionals must continue to work to reduce the public health burden of tobacco-related illness,” she said.

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SOURCES: David Hill, M.D., national board member, American Lung Association; Emanuela Taioli, M.D., Ph.D., director, Institute for Translational Epidemiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City; Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Christine Fardellone, D.N.P., certified tobacco treatment specialist, Northwell Health, Center for Tobacco Control, Great Neck, N.Y.;Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Nov. 14, 2019

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