Wellness Vapes, Are They Safe?

Before Christmas, I had a mom tell me about this situation with her teenage daughter. Her daughter had asked her if she could have a personal diffuser.  Thinking it was something she would plug in and make her room smell like strawberries, Mom told her “Sure.” In a few days, the mom found her daughter in her room vaping what we now call “wellness vapes”.

Wellness vapes or “nutritional supplement diffusers” allow a user to inhale ingredients like vitamin B12, melatonin, caffeine, and many other options. These are usually slim, colorful cartridges, and names like Inhale Health and NutriAir. These products claim to do many things. There are options to help with sleep, give you energy, help with anxiety, and even fight ADHD. The fact of the matter is these products do not live up to their claim.  Here is the kicker, wellness vapes do not need FDA approval to be on the market. Why? They don’t contain nicotine, so the FDA has no control over these products.

The number and options for wellness vapes keep growing. They arrived on the market about four years ago. These products certainly hold something alluring and helpful to teens and undermine the efforts to encourage youth not to vape.

The FDA has warned that wellness vapes might well be dangerous. They may even trigger severe coughing and cause airways to tighten which could make breathing difficult. The simple truth is, it’s not ok to put anything unknown into our lungs.

Flavorings used in these products can cause lung damage and the propellants that send them into the lung will usually be propylene glycol and glycerin into the lungs and that is a medical concern.

Let’s be sure to include these products when talking to our youth about healthy choices. Help them understand that these products make many claims, but they are ineffective and at the worst, are likely to be harmful.

2024-02-20T15:24:13-05:00February 20th, 2024|Bruce Barcelo|

2024 A Year of New Heights

As we turn our eyes toward a new year and all it will bring. Let’s spend a few minutes looking at something relatively new, vaping cannabis. Unfortunately, we cannot go into depth explaining all the differences between CBD, THC, Deta-9, dabbing, blunts, chasing, and many other terms and important details to look at when discussing cannabis but we do need to understand several basic things.

How it works. Just like nicotine vaping devices, cannabis vapes work by heating a liquid or oil that becomes a vapor the user inhales. It is often difficult to tell a nicotine vape from a cannabis vape. Also, kids know how to hack them. I talked to a youth not long ago and he told me that he had a watermelon vape, used it till about half the vape was gone then opened it up and filled it with a THC liquid (he was very proud of himself). There are tons of YouTube showing how to do this.

We do need to know the difference between THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive chemical compound in cannabis while CBD is non-psychoactive. There is also Delta-8 THC that can be sold as CBD. One thing all caregivers need to understand is this. Today’s cannabis is not the cannabis of the 60’s and 70’s. At the very least, 1 joint today is 10 times stronger than a joint in 1970. That means that for every 1 joint, you or your grandparent may have smoked, your child or grandchild would be smoking 10. Then you look at something like “dapping” where the cannabis is cooked down to a wax and is 80% stronger THC than a joint from the 1970s.

This brings us to the realities of the risks. I will highlight two of the vital organs at risk: the brain of the young person and their developing lungs. The brain of a young adult continues to grow into their early 20s and is busy developing critical skills related to problem-solving, impulse control, anticipating consequences, and more. Cannabis can get in the way of this critical development.

Several thousand lung injuries and deaths have been associated with an illness linked to vaping devices containing THC. Even though the CDC has stopped collecting this data, cases are still being recorded. Some symptoms to watch for are shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, and gastrointestinal problems.

In months to come, we will look at how we can address this issue with our youth.

2024-01-03T16:54:13-05:00January 3rd, 2024|Bruce Barcelo|

🚭 S.M.A.R.T Quit Plan 🚀

Embark on a journey to a smoke-free life with a SMART Quit Plan. Although not the only factors, these are the key to help you with quitting.

🔑 Strategy is the key to success! 💡 Medication + counseling is proven, but tailor it to your personality and behaviors. 🔄 Whether you thrive in groups 👥 or prefer solo learning from books 📚, there’s a method for you!

🔥 Motivation Check: Assess your drive to quit. The higher the motivation, the stronger the quit attempt! 📈

🔍 Awareness is Key: Identify triggers – the who, what, where, and why. Understand behaviors, places, people, and emotions that fuel the habit. 🧠

✍️ Reasons Matter: Pen down YOUR reasons to quit. Personal motivations trump external pressures. Do it for yourself, for health, for the freedom! 🌈

⏰ Time and Telling: Don’t just quit, plan to quit! Set a quit date and prepare for the before, day of, and after. 🗓️ Share your journey with others for built-in support! 👭👬

Remember, success is not by chance, it’s by choice! 💫 #QuitSmoking #HealthyChoices #LifestyleChange”

2024-01-03T16:52:24-05:00January 3rd, 2024|Uncategorized|

A Call To Support

This time of the year can certainly mean the weather is changing outside. There are songs like, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” or maybe “Colder Weather” by Zac Brown that remind us of cold weather.  But actually, I’m thinking of the efforts Big Tobacco is going through to keep the “cooling agent” in cigarettes and vapes on the market: MENTHOL.

See, the FDA, in October of this year, sent the White House final regulations to eliminate menthol nicotine products like e-cigarettes, cigarettes, and cigars. But Big Tobacco won’t give these products up without a fight. Menthol cigarettes reap more than a third of all annual cigarette sales from menthols and US sales of “ice” e-cigarettes have been increasing at an alarming rate, with US sales growing by more than 10 times from 2017-2021. What is even more alarming, in 2023, almost 58% of US kids who vape, use ice e-cigarettes.

Big Tobacco put up a major fight as California passed its flavor ban that included menthol. Now, they have multiple front groups like “Alliance for Fair and Equitable Policy” to post advertisements opposing the federal ban on menthol and placing them on popular podcasts and local targeted radio and social. These ads prompt their target audience to call the White House in protest of the FDA proposal.

So now, it’s time for all of us to use our voices. I encourage you to call the White House’s comment line and leave a message for President Biden. Support the FDA’s recommendations on eliminating the sale of menthol products. The phone number is: 202-456-1111.

May your days be merry and bright.

2023-12-22T09:45:21-05:00December 22nd, 2023|Bruce Barcelo|

A Gradual Farewell: Tapering Off Cigarettes for a Healthier Tomorrow

Smoking cessation is a challenging but essential journey for those looking to improve their health and well-being. While quitting “cold turkey” works for some, others may find success through a more gradual approach known as tapering off cigarettes. In this article, we will explore the evidence behind tapering off cigarettes, various methods individuals can use, and tips to make the process more manageable.

Why consider tapering off slowly:

  • Reduction in withdrawal symptoms:
    • Research suggests that tapering off cigarettes can lead to milder withdrawal symptoms compared to quitting abruptly. Gradual reduction helps the body adjust to decreasing nicotine levels, making the process less daunting.
  • Increased success rates:
    • Studies have shown that individuals who gradually reduce their cigarette intake may have higher success rates in quitting smoking in the long term. Tapering off allows smokers to adjust both physically and mentally, increasing the likelihood of sustained abstinence.

What are ways to taper off cigarettes:

  • Set Realistic Goals:
    • Establish a realistic and achievable reduction plan. For example, aim to smoke one less cigarette per day every week until you reach your goal.
  • Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT):
    • Consider incorporating nicotine replacement products like patches, gum, or lozenges. These products can help manage withdrawal symptoms, making it easier to reduce cigarette consumption gradually.
  • Identify Triggers:
    • Recognize and address situations that trigger the urge to smoke. Whether it’s stress, social situations, or certain activities, finding alternative coping mechanisms is crucial for successful tapering.
  • Switching Brands:
    • Some individuals find success in tapering off by switching to cigarettes with lower nicotine content. This can be a steppingstone toward eventually quitting altogether.

Tips for Successful Tapering:

  • Stay Consistent:
    • Consistency is key when tapering off cigarettes. Stick to your reduction plan and monitor your progress regularly.
  • Reward Yourself:
    • Celebrate milestones with non-smoking-related rewards. Positive reinforcement can help reinforce your commitment to tapering off.
  • Seek Support:
    • Inform friends and family about your decision to taper off cigarettes. Having a support system can provide encouragement and understanding during challenging moments.
  • Stay Active:
    • Participate in physical activities to distract yourself from cravings and boost your overall well-being. Exercise can also help manage stress, a common trigger for smoking.
  • Professional Guidance:
    • Consider seeking assistance from healthcare professionals or smoking cessation programs. They can provide personalized advice, support, and even prescribe medications to aid in the tapering-off process.

Tapering off cigarettes is a possible and evidence-backed method for individuals looking to quit smoking. Remember, each step toward reducing cigarette intake is a step toward a healthier, smoke-free future.

2023-12-19T12:04:38-05:00December 19th, 2023|Uncategorized|

Happy Thanksgiving, from Lori Sontag, President & CEO of The Breathing Association

2023-11-21T16:40:37-05:00November 21st, 2023|Uncategorized|

Combating the Teen Vaping Epidemic

Teen vaping is a problem. We have the tools to help you create a solution.

Are you a concerned parent? A teacher, coach or youth organization leader? Below, you can download the tools you need to succeed.

  • The Facts and Myths of Vaping
  • Signs of Vaping
  • Tips for Talking to Teens
  • Recommendations for Schools
  • Organizing a Community Forum or Awareness Campaign
  • Action Plans
  • Resources for more

2023-11-07T13:49:12-05:00November 7th, 2023|Uncategorized|

Giving Tuesday

How Can You Help?

This past year, The Breathing Association has experienced a rapid rate of growth. As the needs of our community increase to care for our most vulnerable populations of Central Ohio, the need for diagnostic tools increases as well.

By having a range of point-of-care testing equipment, The Breathing Association Lung Health Clinic will significantly improve the diagnostic capabilities and provide timely assessments to inform treatment decisions. These items will enable our clinicians to conduct on-site testing, ensuring convenient and efficient evaluation of various health parameters. The list of essential point-of-care machines that are needed include:

  • Hematology Analyzer for rapid assessment of low blood count, bleeding risk, and possible infections
  • Glucose Meter for an assessment of blood sugar levels within the last 90 days and diabetes risk
  • Rapid Strep Test for determination of infection for Strep A or B
  • Rapid Influenza Test for determination of an infection from Influenza A or B
  • Urinalysis Analyzer for assessments of kidney function and possible infections
  • Point-of-Care Chemistry Analyzer for assessment of body electrolytes and organ function
  • Cholesterol Analyzer for assessment of cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease risk
  • Pulmonary Function Test to measure a patient’s lung capacity
  • Portable Digital X-Ray Machine for diagnosing lung diseases including TB and pneumonia.

By incorporating these machines into the clinical workflow, our clinic team will be able to perform comprehensive and rapid assessments, enabling prompt diagnosis, personalized treatment plans, and improved management of pulmonary conditions.

2023-11-01T15:59:17-04:00November 1st, 2023|Uncategorized|

You Know What’s Really Scary?

With Halloween around the corner, there are more than goblins and ghosts to be concerned with. In preparation for a local television interview last week, I visited a vape shop known to sell to youth.  I was able to purchase three devices that researchers point out are very scary. The first was a “Ghost” vape that had THC. Researchers are telling us that youth are often using a THC vape product without knowing it has THC. That my friends is very scary!  I was able to purchase a “VAPIN DONUTS” with the flavor, Juicy Fruit Bubblegum. We had our twin granddaughters for the weekend, and I showed them these devices. When they saw this one, they said, “That smells so good!”  They are sixth graders, tell me that isn’t scary! The last one is from “SNOOPYSMOKE”.  The flavor is “Black Ice” which means it has mint or menthol. Research tells us that many disposable products add mint or menthol and use the code words ice, cool, freeze, and other names describing mint and menthol. But that isn’t even the most concerning issue of the Snoopsmoke. It has 15,000 puffs. This is the highest puff count I have found available to date. This is the equivalent of 7 ½ packs of cigarettes or 150 cigarettes. This is very scary because a youth doesn’t know when to stop using it.  

The FDA MUST take action and stop this nightmare.  

2023-10-13T14:18:57-04:00October 13th, 2023|Bruce Barcelo|
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