Tobacco Use & Vaping

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Tobacco Use & Vaping

Tobacco is a plant used to make cigarettes. It contains nicotine, a toxic and addictive chemical. Traditional cigarettes, chewing tobacco and most e-cigarettes (vapes) contain nicotine. 

Health Conditions Related to Smoking

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, smoking tobacco and nicotine can lead to: 

  • Cataracts (vision problems) 
  • Emphysema (lung disease) 
  • Heart disease 
  • High blood pressure and heart rate
  • Learning and behavior problems
  • Lung cancer, oral cancer, leukemia and almost anywhere in the body
  • Miscarriages, low birth weight and stillbirths

Even if you don’t use tobacco, you may have health issues if you spend time with people while they smoke. This is called secondhand smoke.

Risk Factors for Smoking

Most people who smoke start when they are teens, according to the American Cancer Society. People are more likely to try smoking if their parents smoke. 

In the past 20 years, e-cigarettes and other vaping devices have become popular. Vapes are sometimes thought of as less dangerous alternatives to cigarettes. But e-cigarettes usually contain addictive nicotine, just like traditional tobacco products. 

At first, nicotine makes your body release adrenaline. This chemical gives you a brief high. But it quickly gives way to withdrawal symptoms, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Moodiness
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings  
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling jumpy, restless, agitated or depressed

Smoking Prevention

Governments, businesses, schools and health care providers can do many things to reduce tobacco use. These approaches include: 

  • Adopting smoke-free policies in buildings and outdoor spaces
  • Increasing prices of tobacco products
  • Launching health education campaigns 
  • Providing counseling and medication for smokers

Smoking in Bexar County

About 12% of Bexar County adults smoke, according to the 2022 Bexar County Community Health Needs Assessment [PDF].  There are no clear differences among race or ethnicity groups.

Youth Vaping

In recent years there has been an upward trend in youth vaping. The use of vapes or e-cigarettes is harmful to young adults and teens because they contain nicotine, an addictive chemical that can negatively impact brain development.

Vapes can be especially attractive to younger users because they’re often flavored like mint or candy.

People who vape at a young age are more likely to use cigarettes or other drugs when they are older.

University Health Resources

Smoking Cessation Program

Find out how good it feels to live smoke-free. Kick the habit with University Health’s smoking cessation program. Health educators will help you make a plan that works for you. 

Navigation to Cessation Program

The Navigation to Cessation program aims to decrease tobacco usage among adults living with HIV/AIDS or at risk of acquiring HIV. Call 210-644-1561 for more information.

Community Resources

Lung Helpline & Tobacco QuitLine

Talk to a lung health expert by calling the American Lung Association’s Lung Helpline and Tobacco QuitLine. The service is free. Call 800-586-4872 or submit a question online.

Quit Smoking Classes

View smoking cessation classes in San Antonio [PDF] for more options. The information comes from the city’s Metropolitan Health District.

Quit Smoking Hotline

National Cancer Institute offers free, confidential information about quitting tobacco by phone. The NCI Quitline, 877-448-7848, is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.


The Texas Department of State Health Services offers YesQuit. This program offers free and confidential counseling services, support and information from trained professionals.

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