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The truth about vaping

Millions of Americans have developed a vaping habit since electronic cigarettes became available on the U.S. marketplace in the mid-2000s. Vaping refers to the use of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes – small devices with a heating element that converts liquid into a vapor that can be inhaled. The liquid often contains nicotine, THC (the chemical in marijuana that produces psychological effects), flavorings, and other chemicals.

A vape pen charging on a computer desk.

Sales have risen rapidly since 2007, especially for those under age 50. In 2022, about 8% of Americans reported vaping within the previous week.

E-cigarettes were originally offered as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco products. They were also widely touted as a way to help smokers quit. But have e-cigarettes lived up to their intended purposes?

Is vaping safe?

According to Johns Hopkins University, vaping is likely less harmful than smoking, but it's not safe. While vaping exposes you to fewer toxic chemicals than smoking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed thousands of hospitalizations and dozens of deaths linked to lung damage associated with vaping. Vaping has also been linked to heart disease, asthma and elevated risk of blood clots and stroke. Health risks can be magnified for children, teens and pregnant women.

Vaping liquids that contain vitamin E acetate, which is often used with THC products, are known to be especially harmful. But vitamin E acetate is not the only danger. A 2021 study of vape ingredients found thousands of chemicals, most of which could not be identified and are potentially toxic. The chemicals that were identified included addictive substances like nicotine and caffeine, a pesticide, industrial chemicals and two flavorings that are known to cause respiratory problems.

Can vaping help you quit smoking?

Despite the health risks associated with vaping, Harvard Medical School has cited studies that show it can be an effective tool to help smokers quit. An analysis of 61 studies found that vaping helped up to 14 percent of smokers successfully quit, which is about double the success rate for those who tried to quit smoking using other methods.

However, experts stress that the benefits of vaping are limited to people who are already addicted to smoking. In fact, addiction to nicotine contained in e-cigarettes can increase the chances that non-smoking vapers will eventually begin smoking cigarettes too.

Tips to help you quit vaping

E-cigarettes often contain nicotine and other addictive substances, which cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you stop using them. As a result, it can be just as difficult to kick the vaping habit as it is to stop smoking.

MedicalNewsToday offers the following tips to help vapers quit:

  1. Find your motivation. Improving your health and the high cost of vaping are two excellent reasons to quit. It may also help to think about how your addiction has interfered with activities you used to enjoy, such as playing sports.
  2. Choose a good time. Avoid trying to quit during busy or stressful times in your life.
  3. Nicotine replacement therapy. Consider using over-the-counter (OTC) products that ease the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, such as nicotine patches and gum. Always consult with your health care provider before using OTC products. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe medications that can help.
  4. Avoid triggers. A trigger is a feeling, activity, place or time that makes a person want to vape. Each person has their own triggers. Maybe you always vape on your lunch break or use vapes when you feel stressed. Identify healthier strategies to replace vaping during these times.
  5. Have a plan for dealing with cravings and withdrawals. Some suggestions include:
    • Concentrate on why you want to quit.
    • Distract yourself with an activity.
    • Chew gum.
    • Seek support from friends.
    • Remove yourself from situations that lead to cravings.
  6. Seek support. Connect with friends, apps or other resources that can give you support when you need it most. A quit line can provide you with a quit coach and no-judgment support: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  7. Stay active. Exercise can help you fight cravings, relieve stress and avoid weight gain when trying to break a nicotine addiction.
  8. Relax. Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises can help you deal with stress in a healthy way.

Help your employees quit

Small and mid-size companies can support employees who want to quit vaping. Some ideas include:

  • Offer helpful and publicize a national quit line in your employee newsletter.
  • Provide a financial incentive, such as a discount on health insurance premiums for employees who do not vape or smoke and test negative on a nicotine test.
  • Offer a wellness program that encourages healthy lifestyle choices. The Vitality® wellness program, available with the Allstate Benefits Self-Funded Program, encourages members to make lifestyle choices that improve quality of life, increase life expectancy and reduce health care costs for everyone.
  • Offer Talk Therapy benefits that can help employees learn how to deal with stress in a constructive way and overcome addictions. Talk Therapy benefits are available with Allstate Benefits plan designs.

Contact a sales representative to learn more about how Allstate Benefits can help your company and your employees.

The Self-Funded Program through Allstate Benefits provides tools for employers owning small to mid-sized businesses to establish a self-funded health benefit plan for their employees. The benefit plan is established by the employer and is not an insurance product. Allstate Benefits is a marketing name for: Integon National Insurance Company in CT, NY and VT; Integon Indemnity Corporation in FL; and National Health Insurance Company in CO, WA and all other states where offered. For employers in the Allstate Benefits Self-Funded Program, stop loss insurance is underwritten by these insurance companies in the noted states.

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