Vaping: gateway drug or helpful alternative?

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Daily e-cigarettes use was reported at  8.7 percent for 8th graders, 16.2 percent for 10th graders, and 17.1 percent for 12th graders.

Electronic cigarettes, also known as E-cigs or vapes, have grown extremely popular among middle schoolers, teens, and young adults; E-cigarettes are now even more popular than cigarettes among teenagers. Cigarette use among teens has been slowly declining over the past few years, even hitting an all time low in 2015 and continues to decline in 2016. 3.2 percent of 10th graders reported smoking daily, compared to 4.4 percent in 2013; and 6.7 percent of high school seniors reported smoking daily in 2014, down from 8.5 percent in 2013, according to drugabuse.gov. However, the steady decline of cigarette use doesn’t mean teens and young adults aren’t using tobacco. An increased use of e-cigarettes and other devices that produce nicotine vapor instead of smoke have become popular among teens. Daily e-cigarettes use was reported at  8.7 percent for 8th graders, 16.2 percent for 10th graders, and 17.1 percent for 12th graders. The increase of vaping among teens has raised question on whether vaping is as equally dangerous as cigarette use or if it safer than traditional cigarette use.

Research and facts support that vaping is a better alternative than smoking cigarettes; however, when it comes to knowing which one is essentially healthier, the debate sparks. Vaping has a success rate of 80% when it comes to smokers who quit smoking. Ranking higher than other less successful smoking alternatives, like nicotine patches.

E-cigs do not have the distinct odor of tobacco. They also lack the thousands of other chemicals found in cigarettes. The burning properties of these chemicals and tobacco cling to almost anything. The distinct odor is easily one of the most hated things about cigarettes. Being within a few feet of someone smoking a cigarette is enough to make a non-smoker feel sick or nauseous. Not to mention, the home or car of current or ex-smokers will always have the smell of cigarettes, due to the clingy odor. E-cigarettes do not have the ominous odor because, e-cigs do not produce a smoke, rather a vapor that evaporates immediately, and the smell from an e-cigarette either has no scent or has a scent reminiscent of sweet flavors, like cotton candy, peach, mango..etc. Freshman Maya Harville said, “I wish there was another alternative for vaping that didn’t look as ridiculous. You can’t help but laugh when you see someone who is walking down the street just blowing a huge vape cloud. Obviously I think vaping is better than smoking a cigarette, but it has a bad reputation. In a perfect world we wouldn’t need vapes because everyone would be smart enough to not smoke.”

Electronic cigarettes are much more cost effective over cigarettes. In California a pack of cigarettes cost around $6.45 with a tax excise on cigarettes of $0.87 according to Ibtimes.com. A pack a day smoker can spend up to $3,000 a year on cigarettes. E-cigarettes do not have this issue. While some starter kits might seem overwhelming at first and more expensive than the month-to-month cost of cigarettes, spending the upwards of $200 for a starter kit are more cost effective over needing to buy packs of cigarettes everyday. Moreover, as electronic cigarettes continue to become more mainstream the cost will decline.

E-cigarettes are much safer than cigarettes. Cigarettes are the #1 cause of fire related death in the U.S. and 7 other countries according to learn.eversmoke.com . Since cigarettes require an open flame to lit them, this automatically makes them a fire hazard. Fires started by lit cigarettes constitute for 10% of all fire related deaths. Since, E-cigarettes do not require a flame, they are not a fire hazard, users don’t have to worry about clothing, furniture, or themselves being burnt. Reports of electronic cigarettes exploding in users faces, similar to the case in Windsor, have been problems with electronic cigarettes since 2012. However, these incidents are not a reflection of a flaw in the technology of electronic cigarettes- rather the users. Users who suffered injuries from the explosion of electronic cigarettes admit to altering the device for more power and bigger “clouds”. When used as intended electronic cigarettes are usually completely safe.

Now, the biggest debates about electronic cigarettes and cigarettes are whether electronic cigarettes are significantly better for your health than cigarettes. Obviously, using electronic cigarettes does not involve inhaling smoke and thousands of other toxins and chemicals. The electronic cigarette industry is a booming billion dollar industry, but when it comes to knowing which one is essentially healthier- the research lags. Since the device is a nicotine alternative- opponents argue that using e-cigarettes are a gateway drug especially to the teens, and young adults where vaping has become extremely popular. Researches worry the progressive use of e-cigs among teens will lead to the active use of cigarettes, and other substances. Electronic cigarettes use only a partial list of chemicals and toxins compared to cigarettes. The only chemicals in electronic cigarettes are: Nicotine, glycol, and glycerin. Very few carcinogenic chemicals have been found in e-cigarette vapors, and those present only appear to be in trace quantities – far less than in burning tobacco and similar or less than in recognised nicotine replacement therapies.

Sophomore Ari Thomas said, “My mom was a very heavy smoker from the 80’s. She made a real effort to not smoke around me, I knew it was super hard for her. As early as I can remember, she always smelled like cigarettes. It sucked a lot, and in fifth grade I learned about the dangers of secondhand smoke, and I freaked out. Learning about the health effects like Cancer was so scary, I was sure something would happen to her. I flipped out on her and screamed when I was like 13, and I know it must have hurt her really bad. After that she started doing all these different things: group therapy, nicotine patches, anti smoking gum, etc. but she was still struggling a lot and multiple times she relapsed and it was super sad. Then two years ago, her friend told her about he had completely quit smoking by vaping. She went out and bought a vape pen, she started with the highest amount of nicotine in the vape juice, but since then she has been working her way down slowly. Sometimes she still breaks down and smokes a cigarette but she is doing so much better. I really think vaping is a good alternative, because she feels a lot more in control and it’s really helping her get out of the whole cycle. The house doesn’t smell like cigarettes all the time now and she seems so much happier.”