Today—World No Tobacco Day on May 31—is an annual reminder about the dangers of tobacco, the world's leading cause of preventable death and disease. Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, and smokers are at greater risk for lung disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease and cancer almost anywhere in your body. But this year, the World Health Organization has deemed the theme to be "tobacco and lung health." A fitting theme, knowing that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and secondhand smoke leads to exacerbations for millions of Americans living with asthma.
We know the health effects of smoking can be devastating. In fact, 70 percent of smokers want to quit and nearly half of them will try to quit smoking this year. But only a small handful of smokers will succeed in becoming smokefree on their first attempt.
The problem is that Big Tobacco has hooked generations of Americans on their deadly products because of nicotine. Research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. And to guarantee return customers, the tobacco industry even designed cigarettes to be more addictive.
As the smoking rate continues to decline, the tobacco industry is now pushing a new product that can contain even more nicotine—e-cigarettes. With e-cigarette companies like JUUL now part of Big Tobacco, it should be no surprise that we're facing what the U.S. surgeon general refers to as a youth vaping epidemic.
Big Tobacco also likes to market e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking. But they're not! During the CDC's Year of Cessation, go completely tobacco-free with our proven-effective quit smoking program Freedom From Smoking.
As of 2018, 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students use e-cigarettes—or what is commonly referred to as vaping or JUULing. And a new study shows 40 percent of kids don't realize that e-cigarettes contain nicotine—the addictive element in tobacco—let alone the fact that one JUUL pod has the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. Kids are unwittingly becoming addicted to nicotine, and even more frightening—inhaling metals and chemicals that cause irreversible damage to developing lungs and minds.
We can't sit idly by while we watch another generation follow the path of tobacco addiction. We need education to ensure parents and kids alike understand the harms associated with e-cigarette use.
In honor of World No Tobacco Day, we've launched the public awareness campaign "The Vape Talk" to encourage conversations between parents and their kids. About 40 percent of kids have tried vaping and it's likely their parents don't even know. With a downloadable Conversation Guide, we are helping parents start a conversation that is just as important as the other big "talks" that they have with their teens.
We need to see through the smoke and mirrors that Big Tobacco is playing with our health, and World No Tobacco Day is the perfect time to start. Another generation of lung health is at stake.
Blog last updated: August 21, 2023