As many people commonly know, smoking cigarettes can lead to severe illnesses and death. Although there has been a decrease in the number of cigarette users, there has been a new device on the market in the past fifteen or so years that has become extremely popular. This device is called an electronic cigarette, and it recently has been a hot topic in the media due to the harmful effects that it has had on individuals who use them. Regular and electronic cigarettes have many similarities and are now a subject for health promotion.
For many years’ cigarettes were not deemed as harmful. It wasn’t until 1964 that a report from the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health was released stating otherwise (Centers for Disease Control and Promotion [CDC], 2018). According to the CDC (2018), the report said “that cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, and chronic bronchitis. Since that time, citizens and organizations have implemented interventions to help reduce and prevent cigarette use. This type of work is known as health promotion. Health promotion is defined as efforts that are made to encourage people to engage in healthy behaviors, such as eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting enough rest, and refraining from smoking and abusing alcohol. Health promotion is a philosophy that guides action to achieve good health.
When electronic cigarettes (vapes) came to the market, they were deemed as less harmful than cigarettes and as a way to help individuals quit smoking cigarettes (CDC, 2018). Vapes have become extremely popular for children and less popular with adults. The CDC (2018) explained that 3.6 million United States students used vapes in the past 30 days. The reasoning behind why children make up the majority of vape users is “because adolescents are especially vulnerable to peer pressure, many adolescents begin smoking by experimenting with their friends and then gradually become addicted” (Coutts, Gruman, & Schneider, 2017). On September 12, 2019, the CDC released information regarding an outbreak of lung disease associated with vaping (2019). Now a study like that quite similarly resembles those from cigarettes warnings from the 1960s. These newly released reports have put people in a fear that is similar to that of cigarettes and a motivation for laws to prohibit vape use. As our society moves forward, individuals may choose to change behaviors due to fear appeal. Fear appeal is the idea that people will be more likely to pay attention to a message, and to subsequently act to improve their health behavior if their related fears are activated (Coutts et al., 2017). In addition to the fear appeal, there are other ways that professionals can provide health promotion.
Moving forward with the present information on the harmful effects, organizations, citizens, and health professionals can help to educate and implement prevention efforts. To do this, we must use primary prevention and secondary prevention. Primary prevention is “aimed toward healthy individuals to keep them healthy and avoid their risk of contracting diseases” (Coutts et al., 2017). To do this, schools can educate students through teachers and educational events as a way to help individuals who have not used vapes. These programs will help to spread awareness regarding the adverse effects of e-cigarette use and how to withstand peer pressure to smoke. Secondary prevention is a form of prevention that helps individuals who are already affected, to prevent the worsening of an illness (Coutts et al., 2017). To help those who already smoke vapes and/or who have contracted diseases, health professionals can educate through social media, schools, and on TV. Organizations can provide discounted health checks and support programs to guide individuals to leave the devices behind in search of a healthier life.
So, will people stop smoking vapes? Similar to regular cigarettes, there will always be vape users. Our society needs to provide proper intervention programs as a way to educate people. It seems as though vapes and cigarettes will never be banned, but we must try out best to promote health and wellness by discouraging the use of these harmful devices.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). History of the surgeon general’s reports on smoking and health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/history/index.htm.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). About electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html
Coutts, L. M., Gruman, J. A., & Schneider, F. W. (2017). Applied social psychology understanding and addressing social and practical problems (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.