Young people are at great risk and do not even know the consequences in the future – or so far – of the increase in the use of electronic cigarettes. “The big problem with electronic cigarettes is that their lung changes occur very early. What an ordinary cigarette takes from 10 to 20 years to cause, the electronic cigarette causes in 5 years, with irreversible changes in the lung that are compared with those that we see in elderly people who smoke for more than 30 years “. The alert is from the head and neck surgeon Jefferson Moreira de Medeiros, one of the vice-presidents of the Brazilian Society of Head and Neck Surgery, and it is quite important to be highlighted on World No Tobacco Day, celebrated on May 31.
This year’s campaign is focused on young people, with the aim of drawing attention to the tactics that the tobacco industry uses to attract new generations. One of these tactics, highlights Medeiros, is the addition of flavors. “Cigarettes have a stronger taste; they add mint, cinnamon and others that please young people.” They even work on the elegance of the vaporizer, all disguises for the tobacco industry to continue to promote itself. They saw the increase in hookah consumption by young people and decided to invest in electronic cigarettes “, he points out.” They used this name to try to minimize the great evils that it can cause, and our youth come to believe that it is less harmful or not even do bad “.
In addition to affecting the lung, electronic cigarettes, like common cigarettes, can also cause cancer of the mouth, head and neck. “Our mouth is not used to that temperature of the vaporizer and the cigarette and over time it leads to changes that can develop tumors in adolescents”.
Smoking is the main risk factor for throat cancers. The National Cancer Institute – INCA estimates that for the 2020-2022 three-year period there will be 6,470 new cases of laryngeal cancer in men and 1,180 in women per year.
“I started smoking at a young age, in my day they didn’t talk about the evils of cigarettes, it was synonymous with power, maturity, social status. I remember that all the girls thought that the knight of that famous brand was too beautiful. Years later he himself died of cancer”, reports Melissa Ribeiro, larynx cancer survivor and volunteer president at ACBG Brasil – Association of Mouth and Throat Cancer. “Today I am very sorry to have used tobacco and I dedicate my days to helping head and neck cancer patients, since many have lost their voice for cigarettes”, he points out.
The surgeon, who also teaches classes at the State University of Amazonas, reveals that the indiscriminate use of marijuana draws attention in this generation. “It is an alarming fact. We were unable to measure it because it is an illicit drug, but we realized that the use is increasing. In the past, we had the stereotype of the user, who was called a pothead. Nowadays we have good students, upper middle class, who are users. They use it in a recreational way, but the complications will come later “.
For those who want to quit their addiction or avoid using tobacco, Medeiros gives tips: “Look for a good diet, exercise, things that give you longevity. We are gaining many years of life and we want these years to be lived with quality and not with consequences, diseases, with stigmas after a cancer or treatment that will leave you mutilated for the rest of your life “.
What’s behind the smoking habit?
Many smokers often resort to cigarettes due to stress, sadness, anxiety and loneliness. On the other hand, it is also used in positive moments, when celebrating or experiencing a situation that results in happiness. Several psychological and behavioral aspects are associated with smoking, as explained by psychologist Bruna Hertzog Bridi, who coordinated two support groups on chemical dependence at the Center for Psychosocial Care for Alcohol and Drugs III Novo Amanhã (CAPS AD III) in Caxias do Sul , in Rio Grande do Sul.
Among the behavioral aspects, highlights the daily habits, such as smoking after meals, when consuming alcoholic beverages, before and at the end of activities, among other situations. “Smoking is also often associated as a facilitator of social interactions, to fill some void, relax and appease anxiety. However, relating habits and thoughts to smoking behavior becomes a vicious cycle”, he comments. “In relation to adolescents, many become addicted to feel inserted into a certain group, in search of their social identity”.
Bruna emphasizes that the support of family and friends is essential for the treatment of this addiction. “In the groups, we saw family members who did not care about the treatment and did not attend the meetings. Family problems were also a factor in the aggravation of the addiction.”
The psychologist points out that when the person has a focus on treatment, support from family and friends, the results are better. In addition to pharmacological treatments, Bruna mentions psychological treatment with a cognitive-behavioral approach, identifying beliefs, emotions and reactions related to smoking. “There is, for example, the belief that in order to be able to deal with social situations in a calm way it is necessary to light a cigarette”.
In these cases, he explains, it will be necessary to evaluate beliefs – related to attitudes, rules and assumptions; automatic thoughts: “If I don’t smoke, I will end up getting anxious during a social event”; and the behaviors that the individual has, resulting from these beliefs and thoughts. “With specific techniques, it is possible to identify what leads the person to feed their addiction”.
The Boca and Garganta Cancer Association (ACBG Brasil) is a private, non-profit civil society organization that works on behalf of patients and patients with head and neck cancer and their families throughout Brazil.
Its mission is to mobilize society so that patients have access to comprehensive and quality treatment, being rehabilitated, included in society and fully aware of their basic rights.
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