The Morgan County Health Department is warning the public about the dangers of both smoking and vaping after a dramatic increase in use was seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Erika Newman with the Morgan County Health Department says sales of tobacco products are up so not surprisingly, instances of certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and heart attack are also on the rise.
Newman says after years of decline, tobacco use in young people is also on the rise, and health experts say vaping is the major contributor. “That’s the big concern for us. With the vaping devices, it’s a battery-operated device and it’s got chemicals and nicotine and it’s more attractive to the younger population because of all the fun flavors, the fruit, the cupcake, whatever it might be. So that’s a concern for our youth getting into kind of the gateway of smoking is the vaping products.”
Newman says vaping isn’t any better for older folks either, and that using vaping as a means to step away from cigarette smoking can be a pretty big misconception. “We’re still not sure what the side effects are with vaping, but there is still nicotine in those vaping devices. So even if you want to quit regular combustible tobacco cigarettes, if you go to a vaping device or E-cigarette there is still nicotine so it’s still addictive.”
Newman says both the Morgan County Health Department and the State of Illinois have options for anyone who wants to quit tobacco habits for good. “We have some resources on our website, there is the quitline, it’s through the Illinois Department of Public Health. If you’re eligible you can get up to six weeks of products for quitting smoking. Nicotine patches, cessation classes. So any of those resources you may need we can direct you in that matter. But you’ve got to want to quit.”
To contact the State of Illinois’ free tobacco quitline, dial 1-866-Quit-Yes which is 1-866-784-8937. You can also call the Morgan County Health Department at 217-245-5111 or online at morganhd.com.