BATON ROUGE – In recent months, federal health officials have reported nationwide outbreaks of lung illnesses and injuries associated with using electronic cigarettes, or vaping. This includes several cases in Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Health last week reported the third death in state from vaping-related illness.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana joins state and federal health officials in recommending Louisianians avoid vaping, smoking or using nicotine in any form to lower their risks of lung illnesses and improve their health. And, for those struggling to quit, there are many resources and programs available. Many of these are low or no cost.
“Inhaling nicotine and other chemicals into your lungs, whether through paper cigarettes or vaping devices, is dangerous for your health,” said Dr. Larry Simon, ENT and Blue Cross medical director. “In addition, the heat element of vaping adds more danger to what is already an inherently dangerous activity.”
Vaping devices can reach extremely high temperatures to heat water as they produce the vapor for inhaling. This has led to patients, some as young as teens and 20s, suffering serious burns and other damage to their lungs, trachea and airways, even needing lung transplants, Dr. Simon said.
“That’s why it’s important to avoid smoking or vaping, and if you have started, to quit,” Dr. Simon said.
Blue Cross offers several resources to help its members who are struggling to quit smoking, vaping or using tobacco.
Visit www.bcbsla.com/Stronger for information on how to connect with a Blue Cross health coach, who can work with you on a personalized quitting plan, share educational information and direct you to community resources. There is no cost for Blue Cross customers to work with a health coach.
Most members have some benefits related to quitting smoking included in their health plans. To find out what may be covered, members may call us at the Customer Service number on their ID cards.
There are community resources to help people who are trying to quit:
· Quit with Us, Louisiana! is a free smoking cessation program that offers a wide range of resources, including a toll-free quitline, help with medication, information on creating a quit plan and more.
· Well-Ahead Louisiana is an initiative started by the Louisiana Department of Health that promotes healthy workplaces and tobacco-free environments in Louisiana. The Well-Ahead website includes a wealth of information about smoking cessation.
· The Smoking Cessation Trust pays for stop-smoking programs for Louisiana residents who have been smoking since before Sept. 1, 1988. Go to www.smokingcessationtrust.org or call 1-855-259-6346 for more information.
“I know quitting can be hard, but you are not alone,” Dr. Simon said. “My mom was able to quit smoking after doing it for 45 years. You are stronger than the urge to use nicotine.”
Dr. Simon explains the health risks of vaping and gives tips for those trying to quit in this video (2:27).
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube page to see short videos with the clinical team on various health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular health news and updates.