Tobacco Abuse and Prevention Education
The best way to protect yourself against vaping-related illness is to stop vaping. Rio Grande County Public Health (RGCPH) & Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) are aligned on this a position.
With the large number of cases of lung illness we’re seeing nationally, it’s clear there are dangers associated with vaping. While we can’t pinpoint the specific cause of these serious lung illnesses, we do know vaping products are poorly regulated and may contain or generate chemicals that are unsafe, potentially making people sick. Findings from other states show that most people who got sick used THC products, nicotine products, or both THC and nicotine products. That is true in Colorado as well, but because the long-term health effects of vaping are unknown and as information on the illness emerges, our best advice is to consider not using vaping products.
Vaping products contain more than just harmless water vapor. They are marketed as a “safe” alternative to smoking, but the long-term health effects of vaping are still unknown. If you’re vaping to quit smoking, consult your doctor or call the Colorado Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) to get free FDA-approved treatments.
People who vape should be aware that this illness is occurring and be on the lookout for symptoms that include: shortness of breath or trouble breathing, chest pain, cough, fatigue & possible fever. People who think they may have been sickened by any vaping product should contact their doctor, local public health agency or poison control at 1-800-222-1222.
RGCPH & CDPHE are concerned that currently Colorado youth are using tobacco products at alarming rates, threatening the health of our kids, our communities, and the state as a whole. Colorado has the highest nicotine vaping rates in the nation among teens in the United States. Vaping is harmful for youth. Because vaping devices typically delivers nicotine, often in very high levels, vaping harms developing brains, is addictive, and makes youth much more likely to start smoking regular cigarettes. Vaping also is associated with other risky youth behavior.
Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is the state’s comprehensive survey on the health and well-being of young people. In 2017, the survey sampled approximately 56,000 youth from 190 randomly selected middle and high schools statewide. According to Healthy Kids Colorado Survey Data: When asked, “Have you ever used a vapor product? 44.2% in the State & 49.2% of San Luis Valley high school students answered “Yes”. According to the same survey data: When asked have you used a vapor product during the past 30 days, 27.0% in the state & 20.8% of San Luis Valley high school students answered “Yes”.
With this data in mind, we advise that parents should talk to their kids, especially teens, about the risks and dangers of vaping. Free resources are available to help parents talk to their kids at tobaccofreeco.org and from the Colorado School Safety Resource Center (colorado.gov/pacific/cssrc/tobacco-prevention-resources). The Quitline now serves Coloradans as young as 12 years old who want to quit vaping, smoking or chewing. They can enroll themselves quickly and easily at www.coquitline.org or 1-800-QUIT-NOW to get coaching, either through chat or over the phone. Coaching is free, confidential, non-judgmental and is shown to increase the chances of quit success.