Can Electronic Cigarettes, “E-Cigs”, Really Help Me Quit Smoking?

quit-smoking

Are you looking to quit smoking? That’s great news! Giving up smoking is an extremely tough decision to make (and keep), but one that has incomparable health benefits for the short and long term.

There are many ways you can quit smoking that range anywhere from quitting cold turkey, weaning yourself via nicotine patches and gum, to medications prescribed from your family provider. One speculated way of quitting that has gained popularity over the past few years is the use of electronic cigarettes or “e-cigs”. I would like to clear some misconceptions about the use of these products and hopefully provide good information that helps consumers make educated and accurate decisions about their quitting tools.

What are e-cigs?
E-cigs are battery operated, hand held devices that vaporize nicotine and other chemicals for inhalation. They were first introduced into the U.S. market in 2006 and have been gaining acceptance over the past few years. When exhaled, the vapor looks similar to smoke and has gained the nickname of “vaping”.

What is the controversy behind e-cigs?
You may have heard the many arguments behind whether e-cigs can truly help people quit smoking, or whether that is simply a marketing ploy. The producers of e-cigs and those that provide accessories to the product hold fast to the claims that they are “healthier” than traditional cigarettes because “[they] deliver nicotine without the thousands of known and unknown toxicants in tobacco smoke” (Cahn & Siegel, para. 3, 2011). However, a 2014 study revealed higher voltage e-cigs have higher levels of formaldehyde and other toxic carcinogens (American Lung Association (ALA), 2015).

E-cigs are currently not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means it is unknown how much nicotine or other harmful chemicals are being ingested during use (FDA, 2014). This means e-cig vapor contents can vary across manufacturers, who are not required to disclose what exactly is in the vapor being sold. These chemicals are the same as those found in traditional cigarettes and have been known to be the cause of cancer related to tobacco smoking.

What are my other options then?

Thankfully, there are many other FDA regulated and medically approved options available for smoking cessation. First, talk with your family provider about your intentions. They will be able to discuss with you various alternatives that range from over the counter tools to prescribed medications. Smokefree.gov is an excellent website full of information from reputable sources that includes tips on how to adjust to life without smoking and how to manage withdrawal symptoms.

The first step is making the commitment and the second is making an informed plan of action!
Meredith-Long-FNP-C

Meredith Long is a Board Certified Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner at Cedar Park Pediatric & Family Medicine. She is currently accepting new patients.

At Cedar Park Pediatric & Family Medicine one of our goals is to provide relevant and accurate medical information for our patients and their families.
 
Resources:
Cahn, Z. & Siegel, M. (2011). Electronic cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for tobacco control: a step forward or a repeat of past mistakes? Journal of Public Health Policy, 32, 16-31. doi: 10.1057/jphp.2010.41.Food and Drug Administration. (2014). Electronic cigarettes. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm172906.htm .

Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.) Ecigarettes. Retrieved from http://smokefree.gov/e-cigarettes

American Lung Association. (2015). American Lung Association Statement on E-Cigarettes. Retrieved from http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/tobacco-control-advocacy/federal/e-cigarettes.html.

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It’s National Men’s Health Week – Make YOUR health a priority!

three-generationsNational Men’s Health Week is celebrated the week leading up to Father’s Day. We are urging individuals, families, and others to work on raising awareness to promote healthy living and encourage early detection and treatment of diseases among men and boys.

Ladies, this means that you can help too. Encourage everyday actions to promote good physical and mental health. Be a role model on how to live healthy as well.

Health week isn’t only to remind you to have your wellness exam, but to remind you to lead by example….

  • Eat healthy
  • Be physically active
  • Have annual wellness visits
  • Get vaccinated
  • Be smoke-free
  • Prevent injuries
  • Sleep well
  • Manage stress

Remember to exercise – Adults need at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking every week, and muscle strengthening two or more days a week. Remember, you don’t have to do it all at once, spread your activity out during the week, or break it into smaller chunks during the day. If you have questions about exercising then ask your primary care provider how you should start. Always remember to listen to your body, and don’t overwork yourself if you are just starting out.

Eat Healthy Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables gives you energy, and are great sources for vitamins, minerals, and other natural substances that help protect you from diseases. Limit the amount of food and drink that are high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol. Choose healthier snacks – nuts, apples, grapes, or snacks high in protein.

how-to-manage-stress

Tame your stress Sometimes stress can be good (sometimes!). However, it can also be harmful to your health. It can make you feel overwhelmed and out of control. Avoid drugs and alcohol, which can worsen stress. Take charge of your health, and find an outlet that is best for you – running, kickboxing, swimming, yoga, meditating. Take 15 minutes out of each day for yourself – Sit in a quiet room with no TV, cellphone, or children and take a few deep breaths. RELAX!

Wellness Checklist for Men

  1. Cholesterol – High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Have you had your cholesterol checked this year?
  2. Blood pressure – High blood pressure increases your chance of developing heart or kidney disease, and increases your risk for stroke. If you have high blood pressure, you may need medication to control it.
  3. Colorectal Cancer – Beginning at age 50, through age 75 (depending on other risk factors present that your primary care provider will determine) you need to get tested for colorectal cancer. It is a great primary screening tool.
  4. Prostate Cancer – Starting at the age of 50 (depending on other risk factors present) you may want to talk to your provider about a prostate cancer screening, and if it is the right choice for you.
  5. Sexually Transmitted Diseases – Talk to your provider to see if you are at risk for developing sexually transmitted diseases, and ask about testing.
  6. Diabetes – If you have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight you may be at risk for developing diabetes. Ask your provider about screening tools, and ways to prevent and decrease your risk for diabetes. Diabetes can affect your heart, eyes, feet, nerves, and other body parts.
  7. Tobacco use – If you smoke or use tobacco, talk to your provider about quitting.
  8. Vaccinations – Get up to date on your vaccinations to protect you, your loved ones, and the community. Ask your provider which vaccinations you may need to stay healthy.
  9. Testosterone screening – May be indicated for some, but not all men.

Scheduling an Annual Wellness Visit with your family medicine provider is the best way to start these conversations and starting taking control of your health and wellness.

Ashley Hollister, FNP-C