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Vaping and E-Cigarettes: What You Need to Know

Nov 12, 2019
by Melissa Joy Dobbins MS, RDN, CDE The Guilt-Free RD® and host of the Sound Bites® Podcast

Vaping and e-cigarettes have been making news headlines lately, from the potential dangers they pose to youth to upcoming legislative action. While the facts are still emerging, diabetes care and education specialists may be receiving more questions about this topic from clients and colleagues, and should have an understanding of how to discuss these products.

The health risks of smoking are well known, and for people with diabetes smoking increases the risk of health complications even further. Nearly 70 percent of adult smokers say they want to quit smoking and approximately 60 percent of adult e-cigarette users also continue to smoke cigarettes.

More than 2,000 cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product-associated lung injury (EVALI) have been reported to the CDC, including 39 deaths. While the FDA and CDC have not identified the cause or causes of the lung injuries, the commonalities of the reports include e-cigarette or vaping products and the presence of THC in most of the samples tested by FDA to date. Recent headlines point to Vitamin E acetate as a potential culprit in vaping complications.

Can e-cigarettes help an individual quit smoking? Research indicates there is limited evidence of their effectiveness as smoking cessation aids. However, they may have the potential to help some people quit smoking.

Diabetes care and education specialist have a responsibility and an opportunity to share the current facts and considerations for smoking cessation with their clients and the general public. Staying abreast of this trending topic and the emerging research along with the vast array of tools and resources can help people with diabetes live longer, healthier, smoke-free lives.

Here are two key points to consider when talking with your clients:

  1. Always Ask
    Even if they don’t bring it up, ask your clients about smoking or the use of smokeless tobacco such as e-cigarettes or vaping. The US Preventive Services Task Force Guideline for Tobacco Cessation in Adults recommends that clinicians ask all adults about tobacco use, advise them to stop using tobacco and provide both behavioral interventions and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved pharmacotherapy for cessation to adults who use tobacco. See the full statement here.

  2. Inform and Educate
    While these products may have the potential to help people quit smoking, there is limited evidence of their effectiveness as smoking cessation aids, and there are unknown health risks (both short- and long-term). FDA-approved smoking cessation aids such as nicotine replacement therapy products (patches, gum, lozenges) and medications that do not contain nicotine (e.g. Chantix, Zyban) are known to be safe and effective. These products are preferred over e-cigarettes/vaping due to the unknown health risks, however, regardless of the smoking cessation aid, behavioral counseling and support is a key component in quitting completely.

Also remember that all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, carry a risk. Adults who do not use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarettes or vaping products and they should never be used by youths, young adults or women who are pregnant. The CDC recommends that people should not use e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC.

For more information, check out the resources below. If you are a person with diabetes and have questions about quitting smoking or vaping, ask your diabetes care and educations specialist or healthcare provider. To find a diabetes care and education specialist near you, visit DiabetesEducator.org/Find.

Additional Resources:

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AADE Perspectives on Diabetes Care

The American Association of Diabetes Educators Perspectives on Diabetes Care covers diabetes, prediabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions. Not all views expressed reflect the official position of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Copyright is owned or held by the American Association of Diabetes Educators and all rights are reserved. Permission is granted, at no cost and without need for further request, to link to, quote, excerpt or reprint from these stories in any medium as long as no text is altered, and proper attribution is made to the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

HEALTHCARE DISCLAIMER: This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your diabetes care and education specialist or healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. To find a diabetes care and education specialist near you, visit DiabetesEducator.org/Find.

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