Teens Turn to E-cigs For an Electronic Alternative

“Vaping or non-vaping?” the waitress asks as she hands you and your family menus.
If this phrase sounds strange, it’s because most people are used to the old “smoking or non-smoking” question. But a certain product gaining popularity among smokers could lead to a shift that could change laws and even simple diner questions as this.
There are less smokers in this age than ever before. With more advocacy for quitting smoking and education offered concerning tobacco products, smokers are looking for more options that can help them kick the habit.
But there’s an alternative route that millions of smokers are now taking- and it’s not nicotine patches or gum; It’s electronic.
The Cougar Claw surveyed more than 100 random students, about 10% of the student body, on the subject of smoking and their knowledge of alternatives. Of those surveyed, 22.7% of students admitted that they smoked.
Though this statistic may come to no surprise, the exact amount of students who admitted to smoking also admitted to being e-cig users.
“I used to smoke a pack a day of Reds,” said one surveyed student. When asked if he or she uses e-cigs, they answered, “constantly”.
E-cigarettes are less harmful than its counterpart because it does not contain tobacco or tar, but the water vapor-based electronic substitutes are addictive as they still contain nicotine- the habit-forming chemical found in all cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes are not a new concept; they have been around as early as the ‘60s. But with new attention being paid to technology and its use in the personal lives of individuals, the product has a growing market of smokers looking to turn a new leaf.
Junior Maja Cupial proudly wears her K&D Vapors jacket to school. She has worked for the business for six months, first at their Tomball location, then transferring to their Magnolia store when business expanded.
Cupial firmly believes that electronic cigarettes are not only a safe alternative to smoking, but a recuperative one, adding that they contain propylene glycol, which can be found in inhalers and lung sterilizers.
Along with propylene glycol, the electronic product consists of three other main ingredients: food flavoring, vegetable glycerine, and nicotine.
“The only harmful thing about nicotine is it’s addicting,” Cupial said, adding that she believes nicotine can otherwise be considered harmless and can also be found in the treatment of ADHD.In fact, 46% of the students surveyed view electronic cigarettes as a safe alternative.
And while they are not yet FDA-regulated, the store Cupial works at has an 18 and older policy, as do most stores currently.
Tomball’s K&D Vapors owner David Borella claims the e-cig is a convenient alternative.
“Instead of using a patch or a pill, the e cig is going to give them (smokers) actual hand to mouth movement instead of idle hands,” Borella said.
There is still little known about the effects of the non-FDA regulated substitute. Though the by-product vapors that e-cigarettes produce are nowhere near as harmful as traditional cigarette smoke, no studies have been done on the lasting effects of nicotine or second-hand vapor.
Victims of secondhand vapors, which contains nicotine, have reported feelings of nausea and irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat.
Though there’s a chance young people may be affected by secondhand vapors, the real risk lies in direct inhalation, and not for reasons one may think.
According to sciencedirect.com, a study done in South Korea has proven that teens who ‘vape’ electronic cigarettes are likely to become even more addicted to tobacco products. If a young person were to quit ‘vaping’, they are more likely to go back to smoking regularly, and even more than before.
“You’re trading one addiction for another addiction,” said Dr. Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of the anti-tobacco Legacy Foundation in an interview with NBC.
Currently, there are no laws prohibiting teens from smoking e-cigarettes, though one must be 18 or older to purchase the product itself.
The potential of electronic cigarettes is not all negative, however. In fact, they have been proven to work as well as nicotine patches, and may be a better choice for those who do not respond well to other alternatives. In studies done on adults, e-cig users received a slightly larger percentage of quitters in comparison to nicotine patch users.
Electronic cigarettes have potential to be a key component in the continuing decline in smoking in the US. Though smokers should be advised to take caution with such an unregulated product, the wider range of options for hopeful quitters the electronic product brings is one that cannot be ignored.
Borella said that “there should be, and will be,” age regulations on electronic cigarettes.
With the spotlight on this popularity-gaining product, more regulations are expected to take place- laws which could either prevent or allow public and private use of electronic cigarettes, along with stricter age regulations.
A society of ‘vapors’ is not far off, and in a few years, you yourself may be making the decision at a local restaurant in town:
“Vaping or non-vaping?”