The Great American Smokeout takes place every year in early November. Obviously, every day is a good day to quit. The sooner you stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco, the better. However, November is an ideal time to focus on this important issue.
According to the CDC, nearly 15 of every 100 U.S. adults currently smoked cigarettes as of 2015. That’s an estimated 36.5 million adults aged 18 and up. We all know that smoking causes numerous health problems. It also causes a variety of dental health problems. More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease, according to the CDC.
Also troubling is how popular electronic cigarettes are becoming. Because this trend is so new, the medical community doesn’t fully understand the effects of “vaping,” as it’s called. What we do know is that nicotine in any form is highly addictive. And a new study from the University of Rochester suggests that e-cigarettes are as harmful to teeth and gums as regular cigarettes.
Vaping should not be considered a healthy alternative to smoking. A disturbing part of the trend is that the products seem to be marketed toward young people: brightly-colored packaging, cartoonish characters, and fruity and bubblegum flavors. Dr. Heather Strock from Future of Dentistry discussed this issue earlier this year with the Wakefield Unified Prevention (WAKE-UP) Coalition.
If you’re a parent or grandparent, please consider the Great American Smokeout as an opportunity to talk to your family about the dangers of tobacco and nicotine in all forms — including smoking, vaping, “dip,” and chewing tobacco. Because young people are often concerned with appearance, it may be helpful to remind them that smoking (and potentially vaping) can discolor their teeth.