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It's Better to Smoke (Say What?)

Yup... I said it. (I have a lot of explaining to do.)

The short answer - Vaping is FAR worse.

Cigarettes are old news. We’ve grown numb to warnings. But, being numb doesn’t change facts. Despite how you dress up packaging - cute dispensers, making it flavorful, discrete - inhaling high levels of nicotine can destroy stem cells that turn to neurons - meaning, the brain can be damaged - especially young developing brains.

So, okay, let’s NOT talk about addictive and toxic nicotine. (Sans the caveat that NO amount of nicotine is safe. It raises blood pressure and spikes adrenaline, which increases heart rate and the likelihood of having a heart attack.) Let’s also NOT talk about how vaping can cause gum disease, bad breath, tooth loss, the loss of ability to taste thanks to the thick vape coating that ends up on the tongue... (sexy huh?) or how vaping crashes energy similar to caffeine...

Let’s talk about CROWD SURFING at a concert. 

Yup! Crowd surfing. The music is jamming. The crowd jubilant. So much so, you’re compelled to stage dive into a sea of outstretched hands. Caught mid-flight, you float atop strangers, feeling safe and supported, oddly peaceful, moving to the rhythm of dance and drumbeat. The wave moves you to where you’re safely dismounted, placed upright on your feet, no worse for wear. 

If not for the hands shuttling you, you might have fallen to the floor beneath the crowd. The danger of stomping feet, entanglement of legs and limbs, the inability to get up, or out, could quickly become a health hazard. It’s fun while it’s fun, but scary when it goes wrong. 

So how does crowd surfing fit into this vaping topic?

Human Cilia. 

Cilia are the little ‘hairs’ that line the inside of your respiratory tract. These hair-like projections keep airway passages clean by removing harmful bacteria and other foreign particles. Moving with rhythmic waves, cilia transport mucus and dirt out and away from our airways, keeping it clear to allow us to breathe easily and without irritation. Whatever shouldn’t be in our lungs, gets ‘crowd surfed’ - or transported via a cilia wave - out of our bodies. 

Chemicals in e-cigarettes/vape change and weaken cilia function.

This means, crowd surfers get dropped. A pile of people on the floor creates a dangerous situation. So does a pile-up of dust, mucus and other foreign waste - which is what happens when the crowd surfing hands in our respiratory tract, aka cilia, dysfunction. 

If waste is not removed, our immune system is put at risk. We get colds easier. Lung related issues increase, so much so, medical intervention is required. Hence, the number of deaths and hospitalizations due to vaping are on the rise. 

Quite literally, the ‘hands’ of our immune system are being tied. 

This next observation, is my personal opinion. (To add this disclaimer, I am a Massage Therapist, not a Doctor.) I have worked on several clients prior to their vaping habit, and continued after they took up vaping to ‘quit’ their smoking habit. What I began to notice, was a ‘flattening’ of their thoracic region. 

The rib cage, the bony frame formed by the ribs around the chest, typically presents with the shape of a domed bird cage, or simply described, an ‘oval.‘ However, on the clients that switched to vape, their breastbone and chest appeared to sink. Yes, they were overall thinner, but it was beyond just weight, it was notably bone structure as well. 

Upon researching, I learned one of the side effects of vaping is loss of breath or tight lungs. 

TIGHT LUNGS! 

This ties in with what I’ve been witnessing. 

This is my theory:

If the lungs are compromised and do not fully inflate, the rib cage and correlating muscles, the intercostals and diaphragm for example, will ‘dumb down’ to meet the lesser demand. Not expanding and lifting to its fullest potential, just like any under-used muscle, will cause tissue/structure to lose optimal function. (You don’t use it, you lose it.)
 
When the ribcage fails to expand and lift fully, the space within - the thoracic space that ‘houses’ the lungs - becomes reduced. Repetitive action, or in this case inaction, alters the tissue and framework to become smaller/flatter/less mobile.What’s worse, this issue cyclically compounds each other. Less and less lung inflation, will cause less and less thoracic expansion. Less and less thoracic expansion, will cause less lung inflation - breath, after breath, after breath - which lends to the ‘tight lung’ sensation
 
It is clear how reduced ribcage mobility translates into breathing issues, but what about how it translates into ANXIETY issues! (This is where my favorite obsession comes in - Psychoneuroimmunology, a.k.a. the Mind/Body/Immune System Connection.) 

As I’ve described in previous posts, there are emotional/mental sensations connected to particular body parts. I.E. Smiling brings happy, joyful sensations, and a frown brings sad, and vice versa.

Postural patterns send messages and signals to the brain. 

Guess what messages your ribcage sends?

A full ‘rooster’ chest lends to confidence and empowerment, and a constricted, shallow ribcage lends to anxiety and panic sensations. 

To me, this sheds a blaring light on the association between anxiety and panic disorders, and vaping. Talk about a double edged sword. 

YOU VAPE BECAUSE YOU’RE ANXIOUS
and vice versa
YOU’RE MORE ANXIOUS BECAUSE YOU VAPE

A conundrum for sure. 

A decade ago, teen smoking was in a 20-year decline. Vaping arrived, and we now have more than a million teenagers, many of whom might never have picked up a standard cigarette, addicted to nicotine. 

It's been said that it’s harder to quit vaping than it is to quit cigarettes, which explains the fact that the FDA declared the vape situation as an “addiction crisis.” Withdrawal symptoms: anxiety, irritability, fatigue, intense cravings, lack of concentration, inability to feel pleasure, and headaches, give insight to the studies that show, people are LESS motivated to quit vaping.

Sheesh! When I said, it's better to smoke... Of course, DON’T DO EITHER! 

But if you smoke, I absolutely would NOT suggest switching to vape as some sort of ‘better’ option. We’re in the midst of a twisted, broad, population-based experiment, in which the full scope of issues is yet to be revealed.

IF YOU NEVER PICK-UP THE 1ST

YOU NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE 2ND

Interesting side sad note: The new acronym EVALI

stands for “E-cigarette, or Vaping, Associated Lung Injury”

TO RECEIVE HELP QUITTING

Northwell’s Center for Tobacco Control - 516-466-1980.

The NYS Smokers’ Quitline - (866) NY-QUITS.

AMERICAN LUNG ASSOC

https://www.lung.org/about-us/blog/2019/03/vaping-smoke-and-mirrors.html

CDC

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm