Think that nicotine alleviates stress?

Release of pleasure-inducing chemicals makes tobacco users feel good in the short-term and can appear to have a positive effect on stress. However, it’s important to note that nicotine use does not alleviate stress in the long-term and instead can trap users in a cycle of nicotine addiction. Smokers experience irritability, anxiety, and depression when they have not smoked for a while, feelings which are relieved by smoking. The cycle of symptoms followed by relief from smoking can create the perception that smoking has psychological benefits.

SELLING THE MYTH OF STRESS RELIEF

The tobacco industry has promoted the illusion of nicotine as a stress-relieving tool for decades. It has invested significant resources in marketing that connects tobacco use with mental well-being, stress relief, relaxation, and pleasure. Many e-cigarette brands are now tapping into themes of stress relief and mental wellbeing as well. For example, the popular disposable e-cigarette brand Puff Bar marketed its product during the pandemic as a way to “stay sane,” advertising it as “the perfect escape from back-to-back zoom calls, parental texts, and WFH stress.”

ARE YOUNG PEOPLE VAPING NICOTINE TO LESSEN STRESS?

Research by Truth Initiative shows that, during the pandemic, a large majority of young e-cigarette users started using them to lessen feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, and many continue vaping to cope with these feelings.

• 81% who had used e-cigarettes said they started vaping to decrease stress, anxiety, or depression, according to an August 2021 survey of 1,000 people between ages 15 and 24.

• More than half of vapers use e-cigarettes to cope: 50.3% of frequent vapers — those who vaped 20 or more days in the past month — reported that they need to vape to cope with stress or anxiety, according to Truth Initiative continuous tracking data from June 2021.

• In a separate study, when respondents were asked about the advantages of e-cigarette use, one of the most frequently listed advantages was “relaxation and stress relief.”

• More than twice as many frequent vapers (45%) agreed that it is OK to vape for stress relief compared to non-vapers (20%). Similar patterns exist for survey respondents with any past 30-day use of e-cigarettes.

DOES QUITTING NICOTINE LOWER STRESS LEVELS?

Truth Initiative surveys of young people who quit vaping nicotine-containing e-cigarettes found that 90% of those who quit vaping said they felt less stressed, anxious, or depressed.

The first-of-its-kind program to help young people quit vaping, This is Quitting has helped over 400,000 youth and young adults on their journey to quit vaping. Learn more about how it works and the additional resources available for parents of young vapers and for adults who want to quit.

Teens and young adults can join for free by texting DITCHVAPE to 88709

This is Quitting is a free and anonymous text messaging program from Truth Initiative designed to help young people quit vaping. The first-of-its-kind quit program incorporates messages from other young people like them who have attempted to, or successfully quit, e-cigarettes. Our messages show the real side of quitting, both the good and the bad, to help young people feel motivated, inspired and supported throughout their quitting process. We also send young people evidence-based tips and strategies to quit and stay quit. This is Quitting is tailored based on age (within 13 to 24 years old) and product usage to give teens and young adults appropriate recommendations about quitting.

To enroll in This is Quitting, teens and young adults text DITCHVAPE to 88709. The first messages they receive will ask for their age and product usage so that they are able to receive relevant messages. Users receive one age-appropriate message per day tailored to their enrollment date or quit date, which can be set and reset via text message. Those who are not ready to quit receive at least four weeks of messages focused on building skills and confidence. Users with a quit date receive one week of messages prior to that date and at least eight weeks of messages after their quit date. Throughout the program, users can text COPE, STRESS, SLIP or MORE to receive instant support. Upon completion of the program, users receive periodic text messages from truth and may continue to use supportive keywords for as long as they like.

Here’s what some young people have to say about the program:

They are cool, they make me feel as if I’m not alone in this journey. — Anonymous, teen

They make it seem like there is a way out of addiction. — Chase, teen

It expresses the emotions of quitting from other people. — domlussier, teen

They’re the one thing rooting for me to quit. — EG, teen

They’re not super in your face. They serve as a quick “hey don’t do the thing you’re thinking about right now”. — Cole, teen

They encourage me not to JUUL, they offer alternatives when I get a craving. I started going to the gym and working out instead of JUULing. — Scarlett, young adult

They remind me there’s no room to turn back to something harmful. — Meredith, young adult

Annie Reiss is a coordinator with the Clark County Tobacco Prevention & Cessation Lifespring Health Systems.

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