Vaping has become increasingly popular among school-aged children and teens in recent years.
National data released in September by the FDA and the CDC showed that more than 2 million middle- and high-school students had tried vaping at least once in the previous 30 days. Of those users, nearly a quarter reported daily use of e-cigarettes or vaping devices.
Here in Cambria County, youth vaping statistics are even more stark. Across all age groups, a quarter of respondents said they had used a vape or e-cigarette in the previous 30 days, including almost 45% of the county’s high school seniors and nearly a third of responding 10th graders.
Multiple factors contribute to the attractiveness of exploring vaping products for youth. First and foremost are the marketing tactics of Big Tobacco, including sleek device designs and flavored products.
Kids will also imitate behaviors they see in their parents, other adults in their lives or celebrity influencers on social media.
Adagio Health is meeting the vaping crisis in southwestern Pennsylvania head on. As the regional primary Tobacco Prevention and Control contractor for southwestern Pennsylvania, the Tobacco Free Adagio Health teams collaborates with schools, youth programs, universities, local businesses, nonprofits and municipal governments to prevent and reduce the use of tobacco in all forms.
And while in some circles, vaping is seen as a “safer” alternative to smoking, the negative health impacts of vaping vastly outnumber the perceived benefits, especially in young people.
While the link between vaping and severe lung diseases such as EVALI (E-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury), lipoid pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (wet lung), and bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lung) is still under investigation, the e-cigarette aerosol (or vape juice) is not simply harmless water vapor.
Besides nicotine, the highly addictive drug found in cigarettes, more than 60 chemicals can be found in vape juice, including those found in embalming fluid, weed killer and car exhaust.
The Tobacco Free Adagio Health team is proud to partner with the Cambria County Drug Coalition to educate the public on the harmful effects of smoking, vaping and exposure to secondhand smoke – and to help current smokers access resources they need to quit nicotine and tobacco for good.
Trained subject matter experts and specialists offer virtual, in-person, individual or group cessation classes as well as training and facilitation of early intervention programs such as Why Animals Don’t Smoke, and youth prevention and cessation programming such as Catch My Breath and the American Lung Association-developed INDEPTH and Not On Tobacco programs.
The Tobacco Resistance Unit is a Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco and American Lung Association initiative for middle and high schools throughout the region that helps kids stand up to Big Tobacco and advocate for nicotine-free lifestyles.
Tobacco Free Adagio Health is also collaborating with the Cambria County Drug Coalition to provide technical assistance to businesses, organizations, municipalities and housing spaces to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke where people live, work and play.
This work matters.
According to Pennsylvania Department of Health data gathered from death certificates between 2015 and 2019, the per-capita lung cancer age-adjusted death rate for Cambria County was 37.8%.
The average rate throughout the southwest health district was 39.6%.
November brings opportunities to increase awareness around tobacco and tobacco- related illnesses. Lung Cancer Awareness Month is observed in November, and Nov. 18 will mark the 44th annual Great American Smoke Out – a tobacco holiday sponsored by the American Cancer Society as an opportunity for people who smoke to quit for a day and commit to a healthier, smoke-free life moving forward.
The most effective way to stop tobacco use is preventing young people from starting, and offering support to current smokers on their quitting journey. Tobacco Free Adagio Health and agencies such as the Cambria County Drug Coalition are here to help educate and support southwestern Pennsylvanians of all ages from the harmful effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure.
For more information, visit tobaccofree.adagiohealth.org or call 800-784-8669 to speak with a highly trained quit coach.
Grant Young is the health policy coordinator for Adagio Health. He supports the tobacco prevention and control efforts of the Pennsylvania Department of Health in Allegheny County and Southwestern Pennsylvania. He has a master’s in public policy and management from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s in education from George Mason University in Virginia.