Tobacco & Nicotine

 Did you know…

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the US. (CDC, 2020)

22.1% of WSU students have used nicotine products at some point in their lives.

10.7% of WSU students have used nicotine products within the last 90 days.

8% of WSU students vape nicotine & 3% smoke cigarettes. Less than 1% of WSU students use chewing tobacco.

The minimum age to purchase tobacco products has increased to 21, nationwide.
This went into full effect in Utah as of July 1, 2020. (Utah Department of Health, 2021)

Source: WSU National College Health Assessment (NCHA), Spring 2021

 How does Tobacco & Nicotine affect the Body?

Tobacco and other nicotine products impact nearly every organ in your body, harming both your physical and mental health.

  • Tobacco use has been linked to numerous forms of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, emphysema, bronchitis, and obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Among college students, nicotine use has been linked to poor academic performance, high-risk drinking behavior, increased drug use, and high-risk sexual behavior.
  • In teens and young adults, nicotine literally changes the way the brain develops, making it harder to focus, lowering impulse control, and increased the risk for depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.

Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds, producing a pleasurable, relaxed feeling. Nicotine works similarly to cocaine or heroin by activating the portions of the brain that control the feelings of pleasure, including the release of dopamine. While nicotine can make a person feel good, the effect is short-lived and leaves the user craving more. This can lead to addiction within days of first use! In fact, research shows that nicotine is as addictive as heroin.

Tobacco products contain thousands of chemicals, including 70+ that are known to cause cancer. Nicotine in and of itself is a carcinogen - products labeled or marketed as containing only tobacco or nicotine are not safe alternatives to “Big Tobacco.”

Smokeless tobacco is dangerous, too. Whether in dip, snuff, chew, or pod form, smokeless tobacco actually contains more nicotine than cigarettes and can cause cancer of the lips, gums, tongue, cheeks, pharynx, stomach, and pancreas. It can also lead to heart disease, gum recession, and leukoplakia, or
pre-cancerous white patches in the mouth.

Plain and simple – there is no “safe” form of tobacco.

 What About Vaping?

Vaping has really taken off in the last decade! It smells better, tastes better, and can be more discrete than smoking. It’s also perceived as safer than traditional tobacco products, or as a cessation (quitting) tool. But be careful – it’s a trap!

Candy-like smells and flavors increase use – and addiction rates – among teens and young adults and due to lack of consistent regulations, it’s hard to know exactly what’s in vape “juice.”

  • Lab testing from the Utah Department of Health has found that 99% of vape juice contains nicotine – even those labeled as “nicotine-free!”
  • Vape juice contains heavy metals and other toxic chemicals, including a chemical called diacetyl which causes a type of serious, irreversible lung disease called “popcorn lung.”
  • Exhaled vapor is not just water - it contains the same chemicals as the liquid, exposing those around you to the same risks.
  • Studies also show that vaping does not help people quit and may make it harder. The good news is, if you’re ready to quit there are better options – and we can help!

 Are You Thinking About Quitting?

Most people who smoke want to quit – and the benefits to your body (and your bank account!) are almost immediate. As soon as you stop, your body begins to heal.

Quitting nicotine is hard, and it can be discouraging if you’ve already tried. Most users don’t quit on the first try and it can take several attempts to kick the habit for good. Don’t think of it as “failure” - each time you try, you learn something that will make the next attempt easier – and that’s valuable knowledge that gets you one step closer to quitting!

 Are You Ready To Quit?

You don’t need to do it alone. Professional support can make it easier on you and increase your chances of a successful quit attempt. Check out the resources, below, and decide what works best for you!

If you prefer in-person…

Book a Wellness Consultation with Rochelle in the Student Wellness Office. As a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) certified in Smoking Cessation, Rochelle can help you create a custom quit plan, find additional support, hold you accountable and help troubleshoot any stumbles along the way.

If you prefer something online, by phone or text…

The Utah Department of Health offers free and confidential resources through their Way to Quit program. Professional quit coaches are available 24/7, by phone or online. Both options include up to 12 weeks of FREE nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for those 18+. If you prefer not to work with a quit coach, their custom quit plan program offers a free 2-week NRT starter kit, educational materials, and support through text messaging and email.

Don’t forget to talk to your doctor…

You are 2-3 times more likely to quit with the help of a healthcare provider! In addition to offering support and reinforcement, your provider may be able to prescribe medication that makes the quitting process easier and more successful. If you don’t have a primary care physician, make an appointment at the Student Health Center!

If you’re under 18…

My Life My Quit offers free, confidential help to those under 18. Services can be provided over the phone, through text, or through online chat. Text 36072, call 855-891-9989 or check them out online to get started.

 For More Information, Check Out…


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