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Breathing Life Into The Great Smokeout



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Smoking is “the single largest preventable cause of death and illness,” according to the American Cancer Society — and it is a choice. Public education over the past five decades has made clear the hazards of inhaling smoke, of any kind, into the lungs. Cigarette smokers add insult to injury by surrounding others with unwanted secondhand smoke.

The annual Great Smokeout on November 21 is even more important this fall than the previous 41 years this day devoted to stubbing out smoking has been.

What makes this (mostly forgotten) day stand out this year is a particularly urgent directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health officials: for vapers to pocket their devices, once and for all. It is a Great Smokeout — or Vapeout, if you prefer — to which anyone who smokes anything would do well to pay close attention.

Breathing or not, due to a mysterious illness linked to vaping, should concern anyone who vapes. Whether the vaping products contain the suspected vitamin E acetate and THC-laced substances or nicotine and other unregulated ingredients, any vaper is putting him/herself at risk.

To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 2,000 confirmed cases in which lung issues associated with vaping have occurred, resulting in 39 deaths, including three in Connecticut. Patients are largely under the age of 35, and many are under age 20. It may not be grabbing headlines anymore, but what precisely is contributing to this epidemic of primarily young people suffering from lung injuries linked to using e-cigarettes remains under investigation.

Since 2016, it has been illegal to sell e-cigarettes and similar devices and products to those under age 18. Yet young people continue to vape in growing numbers: an increase during 2017-18 for high school students of 78 percent and a 48 percent uptick for middle school students, according to the CDC. Where these teens and preteens are getting devices and products is of grave concern; if not through licensed tobacco dealers in stores, is it through street sellers and friends of friends, right now considered the most dangerous source of these products? FDA policies regarding vaping products remain vague, so a second thought should certainly be given even to items sold legitimately.

Until the culprit is determined, the CDC suggests “refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping products…”

In an interview with The Newtown Bee five years ago — as initial concerns about e-cigarettes raised eyebrows — a pulmonary expert observed that “ lighting something on fire or vaporizing it and inhaling it increases the chance of screwing up your lungs.” Omniscient and wise, it is a comment that warrants consideration.

Giving up smoking for a day is hard; giving it up for the rest of one’s life is harder. But every day that is smoke free improves the chances of not contracting smoke-related illnesses.

Don’t even wait for the Great Smokeout day to roll around. Say goodbye to smoking immediately: commit to inhaling good, clean air.

Your future thanks you.

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