If you are considering quitting smoking for the new year, the American Lung Association encourages you not to rely on e-cigarettes as a replacement. Their message to smokers: “Quit, Don’t Switch.”
The campaign comes after an outbreak of lung illnesses and deaths linked to vaping.
“E-cigarettes and vaping products are tobacco products,” says Jennifer Folkenroth, the national director for tobacco programs at the American Lung Association. Folkenroth told 8News there are a lot of misleading ads and claims about the products.
The American Vaping Association claims vaping products can help smokers quit. For years, ads have hailed e-cigs as a safe and effective way to quit smoking. An ad for Blu brand cigarettes states, “I have been a smoker for 12 years and I just found the smarter alternative. Blue e-cigs.”
Yet Folkenroth says there’s no proof of the claims.
“The fact of the matter is FDA has not found any e-cigarette product safe and effective in helping individuals to quit tobacco products,” she told 8News.
The recent outbreak of lung illnesses and deaths linked to vaping is now also prompting new concerns about replacing cigarettes with e-cigarettes. To date, the Centers for Disease Control reports 55 deaths in 27 states linked to e-cigs or vaping.
Allison Herger, a former smoker, spoke with 8News about her own scare. After 28 years of smoking she switched to vaping. Herger ended up in intensive care struggling to breathe.
“I was woken up by two different doctors and they told me what was going on with my heart racing. They said we think we’re going to have to intubate. It’s probably time for you to call somebody,” Herger explained.
The Virginia Department of Health doesn’t see e-cigs as a safe alternative either.
“You’re still using nicotine so you are still addicted to something our stance is quit, just quit,” Rita Miller, Cessation Services Coordinator at VDH, told 8News.
Miller says if you are looking to quit smoking in the new year they can help. VDH is offering a free cessation counseling service called Quit Now Virginia.
“There is a quit coach as we call them. They are extremely prepared,” Miller explained. “You are able to access it through the phone and internet. It is free for anybody who is age 13 or older.”
With the exception of a few holidays, the service is available 24-7. Counselors will design a plan tailored to you.
“There is going to be relapses. There are going to be triggers and one of the things that the quit line does is help you with that,” Miller said.
Folkenroth says it’s true that it can take several tries to quit but she adds, “Never give up, it is never too late to quit and it is never too late to try again.”