May 31 is World No Tobacco Day

World no tobacco day banner - Vitality

World No Tobacco Day has been established by the World Health Organization. In preparation for this big day, we’ve done our own research on current tobacco usage and how technology is shaping the way people consume the product. World No Tobacco Day is a global campaign meant to raise awareness of the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use on our health. This year’s focus is specifically on “tobacco and lung health” and will increase awareness around the negative impacts on people’s health from cancer to lung disease and the functional role that lungs play for our overall health and well-being [1].

Out with the old, in with the new

Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and more than 480,000 people die each year from diseases that are associated with smoking. According to Phillip Morris International’s website cigarettes have been known to contain more than 6,000 chemicals with approximately 100 of them leading to causes or potential causes of smoking-related diseases and cancers[2].

Not only are cigarettes completely unhealthy, they are extremely addictive. There are a variety of brands in the marketplace, and majority of them have nicotine in them, which makes the cigarette addictive.

There are many ways in which to smoke nicotine: utilizing the traditional combustible cigarette stick, cigar, pipe, rolling your own cigarette, hookah, or the new and popular devices called vaporizers and e-cigarettes (e-cigs).

According to the government’s drug facts, “e-cigs are battery- operated devices that are used to inhale an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine (though not always)” [3]. These items can come in a variety of forms, have large batteries and a reservoir for liquid. Some brands even market a smaller USB stick- or pen-like device containing disposable liquids. There are many brands in the marketplace and business is booming.

With the health risks of smoking so widely known and understood, the tobacco market has recently created a new smoke-free strategy. Instead of pushing the traditional cigarettes, leading tobacco companies are looking for a “healthier” and “safer” way to consume tobacco. Companies like Phillip Morris International’s parent company, Altria recently invested $37 billion into e-cig brand, JUUL. JUUL was developed to be an alternative to the combustible cigarette. A way for smokers to consume their tobacco without being exposed to the more than 6,000 known chemicals that have been found in ignited tobacco.

Are e-cigs safer?

With anything good, there are always draw backs. With a high focus on providing adults a better or healthier way to enjoy tobacco, we’re also seeing a rise in new smokers. It seems we’re going back in time where flavored tobacco, colorful packaging and fun naming conventions are more appealing to kids than adults. According to the FDA, from 2017 to 2018, e-cig usage increased 78% among high school students (11.7% to 20.8%) and 48% among middle school students (3.3% to 4.9%) [4]. 67.8% of current users stated that they use the flavored tobacco over the standard tobacco flavoring [5].

These alternative tobacco devices do contain a lot fewer chemicals than the traditional cigarette, but they are not completely void of harmful toxins. According to the surgeon general, these products are still harmful and contain potentially harmful ingredients including “ultra-fine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease, and volatile organic compounds” [6].

Because of the variance between the ingredients, hardware and delivery methods of e-cigs there is no clear-cut equality between the e-cigs and traditional cigarettes.

Vitality Smoking Cessation offerings

The Vitality program offers points for a negative cotinine test as well as smoking cessation goals and resources to aid in the reduction of smoking products.

Vitality offers a Living Smoke Free program that lasts for a minimum of eight weeks and is customizable by the member. The member will be receive one to two daily Newsfeed posts that provide information and motivation to help him or her achieve his or her non-smoking goal. There are also multiple interactive tools and resources to educate the member on common concerns for making the switch from smoking to non-smoking, including how to deal with weight gain, controlling cravings and withdrawal, and how to prevent slip ups or relapses. The great thing about the Living Smoke Free program by Vitality is that is self-paced and one can consume the information during that eight-week period in his or her own time.

Take it from Vitality member Frances D. about the smoking cessation program. She stated:

“I started the program on Feb. 10, 2018 when I turned 52-years old. Nothing had ever worked before, but with the incentive that my employer offered I finally did it!!! No more waking up coughing my brains out.  I have never felt healthier than I do right now.  Even my coworkers have noticed the difference. Last year, I was out a lot with bronchitis and in the hospital due to my inability to breathe well. This year, NONE!!! Thanks to my employer and Vitality I am finally free of that Nicotine Monster!!! Thanks a million.”


Erica is a Customer Insights Analyst at Vitality, and has a love of data analytics and data science. She has an English degree from the University of Iowa and loves to cheer on the Hawkeyes in every sport. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, reading and doing anything outdoors with her family.




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