You’ve heard the phrase ‘smoking kills’ one too many times, but it’s true. Non-smokers live longer and healthier lives. Actually, not smoking is one of the seven dominant predictors of successful aging within some personal control. But it’s not just cigarettes: vaping, smoking marijuana, and even exercising in poor air quality can all have detrimental effects on your lung health and longevity.
Now, some of you may be thinking, ‘But I vape to quit smoking; it’s safer, right?’ Sorry to debunk that myth, but that’s not the case. Studies have shown that vaping can be just as harmful, if not more so, especially for older adults. In fact, a 2020 The Philadelphia Tribune article cited a CDC report that found adults over 50 are more likely to end up in the ICU from vaping-related illnesses. And let’s not forget about the harmful chemicals in vaping products, like diacetyl, which are linked to a serious lung disease called ‘popcorn lung’.
And it’s not just vaping; smoking marijuana is also on the rise among older adults. A 2021 article in The New York Times reported that marijuana use among people over 65 increased 75 percent from 2015 to 2018. But just like cigarettes, marijuana smoke contains toxins, irritants, and carcinogens that can harm your lungs. So, if you’re using marijuana for medicinal purposes, consider edibles, pills, topicals, or tinctures instead. And remember, according to the American Bar Association, marijuana, in any form, may have negative side effects, especially for older adults, exacerbating memory, cognition, and balance problems.
And, let’s not forget about the air we breathe. Air pollution, especially from wildfires, can seriously impact our health. Wildfires, in particular, release harmful substances into the air, including particulate matter and harmful gasses such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. NOOA.org has reported climate change is leading to longer and more active fire seasons. So, be sure to check the air quality index in your area before going outdoors for a run or a walk.
In short, smoking is bad. Vaping, smoking marijuana, and exercising in poor air quality are also bad. Don’t do it. Be mindful of the air you breathe and your overall lung health.
Throughout the “Top Priorities” section of this blog, we will provide data-backed insights for a long, active retirement.