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More vaping-related lung injuries reported in Utah, is it time to quit?

Full gram vape pen, an alternative medicine prescribed to medical marijuana patients. Although Utah lawmakers are seeking to eliminate hurdles with proposed legislation to allow any doctor to recommend medical marijuana, some experts argue it’s only a temporary fix to a lasting problem. (Photo credit, Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) reports there are now 83 cases of vaping-related lung disease in Utah, seven more than the department reported last week. It’s been less than a week since Utah reported its first death related to vaping.

The UDOH says their evidence finds that most of the illnesses related to vaping are connected to THC cartridges, or “carts.”  Health officials say people with vape-related lung illnesses get their THC products through friends, online, and from in-person dealers.

Most of the people in Utah suffering from vaping-related lung disease are men (83%) in their 20s or 30s, with  26 the median age in Utah.

That’s a troubling number for health officials.  “The brain is still developing, and nicotine is particularly harmful for people 25 and under,” says Ryan Bartlett, the media manager for the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program at the State Health Department.

Kicking the habit altogether

State health officials want to see more people not only quit vaping but quit the inhalation of nicotine altogether. In other words, they want smokers/vapers to quit the habit.

The UDOH says there are tested methods that work, including working with a quit coach or a support system. Nicotine gum or patches can wean you from nicotine slowly.

It sounds quite simple but doing something else, other than smoking/vaping, can help if you want to quit the habit. You can use your imagination, but some of the activities that the UDOH recommends for people who want to quit smoking/vaping are to brush your teeth, take a walk or drink a cup of water.

It doesn’t have to be complicated

Even something as simple as deep breathing can help the craving for nicotine pass unfulfilled.

Learning to recognize your triggers is also very helpful for anyone that wants to quit smoking or vaping.  The Utah Health Department says triggers can include specific places, people, activities, or even food. Avoiding these things, or finding ways to replace them, can help you quit the habit.

What about withdrawal?

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and Bartlett says that it can take several attempts to quit. Part of the reason that many people start smoking/vaping again is the fear of withdrawals.

Withdrawal symptoms from nicotine can include fatigue, hunger, irritability, and trouble sleeping.

Having or fearing withdrawals doesn’t mean that you can’t quit. “There are other people out there who have gone through several, even dozens of quit attempts before they were able to successfully quit,” Bartlett told KSL Newsradio.

“Just because it’s taking a while, doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen. You have to keep committed to it.”

Some good news

As the number of vaping related illnesses grow in Utah and nationwide, the message about quitting may be getting through. Bartlett says that calls to Utah’s quitline are increasing.

That number is 1-800-quit-now. Or visit waytoquit.org.

(Simone Seikaly contributed to this report.)