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Kick butts; and e-cigs, too

In honor of March 18 being National Kick Butts day, I’d like to encourage people, and especially teens, to kick your butts and e-cigarettes, too. I’ve done the research and it isn’t pretty.

But first a bit about the 20th anniversary of “Kick Butts Day.” There is a website that I’d encourage folks to go to: http://www.kickbuttsday.org/for-youth-advocates/not-a-replacement/. It states, “Tobacco kills 1,300 Americans every single day. So how do tobacco companies stay in business if all their customers are dying? According to tobacco industry documents, which you can click on and view at another site, they aggressively market their products and seek ‘replacement smokers,’ specifically teens.”

Not many people like being considered a “replacement” or even a “number.” This website encourages teens to send out a “Not a Replacement” selfie statement of you holding a poster of who you really are on your social media accounts. The example featured a girl holding her poster that said, “I am not a replacement. I am an artist.”

For those already hooked on smoking, how does it feel knowing that you are just a number that they know they will need to replace because they are slowly killing you? And yes, you have the right to smoke. Just remember that it has been proven to do the following: It impacts every cell of your body negatively. They’ve measured the immune system, internal organs, skin, and the blood. “CO2 in cigarette smoke binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells, preventing them from carrying all of the oxygen they normally would.”

I remember watching a video of a capillary before and after inhaling a cigarette. To see a capillary, look in a mirror at the white of an eye. The little red vessels are capillaries. When the person smoked, the capillary visually got smaller. Now, what a capillary does is take the blood from the heart, through the arteries and into the cells, where other capillaries take old blood back.

So because one is smoking, the blood is already not as good as it could be. Then, the heart has to pump harder to get the blood to all the places it has to go … miles of places! And that is one of the reasons that smokers have high blood pressure and are more at risk of stroke or heart attack.

I observed substance abuse counselor Rebekah Reid demonstrate how the temperature of a subject’s hands went down after she started smoking. This was another demonstration of how the capillaries were not functioning as well, and this was a young teen! Reid specializes in teens and can be reached at 4-1054 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa, 96746, (808) 823-7007.

So if the blood isn’t strong and it isn’t getting to all the places it needs to get to easily, it’s only logical that when stress or something causes a health crisis in the body, it will be less able to handle it. And some of the stress is from the terrible chemicals that are in tobacco cigarettes themselves, such as formaldehyde, benzene, pesticides, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide and hundreds more. There are even two radioactive substances found in cigarette smoke.

Do you love your family, friends and the environment? Well, there’s a good reason to quit smoking, even if you don’t love yourself enough to quit. They’ve measured over 250 toxic chemicals that are still in secondhand, or sidestream smoke, including 50 cancer-causing chemicals. Secondhand smoke is a cigarette smoker’s exhaled smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke from traditional cigarettes has killed 2.5 million adults who were non-smokers, in the past 50 years. The smoking area of a home should be outside and even that is toxic to the environment.

Sidestream smoke is the smoke from a lit cigarette between inhalations, tossed carelessly aside, or left to smoke itself out in an ashtray. If a person lights up in a tobacco-restricted area, you have the right to politely but firmly ask him/her to stop.

Now on to e-cigarettes.

They are relatively new, hitting the U.S. market in 2007. The FDA attempted to ban them, with individual states banning them. One lawyer in Oregon filed a lawsuit against one manufacturer. He claimed that “the existence of flavored e-cig vapor constituted marketing nicotine products to minors.”

The March 12, posting from Science Daily shared a synopsis of a recent study stating, “e-cigarette emissions contain enough nicotine, and numerous other chemicals to cause concern. A non-user may be exposed to secondhand aerosol particles similar in size to tobacco smoke and diesel engine smoke.”

Also, the vapor may get into the nostrils of others without their noticing it. They are finding that teens who hang around smokers or vapors, as they call e-cig users, they may be more likely to begin smoking. If secondhand smoke is causing a concern, can you imagine what it’s doing to the vapor.

The study also called for regulation, since different companies use different substances in creating the e-cigs. A major ingredient is propylene glycol, an alcohol-based formula often used in antifreeze, liquid laundry detergent solvents and paint. “The side effects of prolonged inhalation of propylene glycol found in room deodorizers can cause irritation of the mucous membranes, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.”

Plus, there are flavorings now. Flavors are meant to be eaten, not smoked. I’m old enough to remember when smoking was beginning to be related to deaths. They gave cigarettes to all the GIs in World War II. My dad was a user, and became a chain smoker. Men were the first to begin dying in large numbers from lung cancers and heart attacks. He died at age 57 from cancer. It was lymphoma, but it was his lungs that gave out. He had quit smoking at age 40, the same year I saw that video about constricting capillaries.

I lobbied my siblings to join me in asking Dad to quit smoking because we loved him and wanted to have him around. He did it, and was happy to be able to taste things he hadn’t tasted in years. He was happy to have more energy and more money to spend on fun things. He bought a small boat. We all enjoyed that.

Women also began getting hooked on cigarettes and their deaths from cancers and heart problems increased dramatically.

On nearly every website about creating good health, one reads that the No. 1 thing anyone can do to boost it is to quit smoking if they smoke, or just plain not start.

“Within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, your body will begin to heal and improvements to your mental and physical health will continue to grow with time invested in smoking cessation.”

It is never too late to quit smoking. So kick some butt today, or encourage a loved one to do it. You won’t be sorry.

•••

Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org

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