E-Cigarettes: more to it than the hype?

Claire Kinnear, Reporter

    In the age of technological wonder and awe, a world bombarded with smart phones, smart cars and computers, why would society not have electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs? Readers may have heard the terms e-cig, vape or vaping around school, but may not know what it is? E-cigarettes have been billed as  a healthier alternative to the traditional tobacco; however, new research and studies have come out with the truth about risks, popularity and health factors.
     An e-cig looks just like any other cigarette from afar, but has several modern twists including a battery and a cartridge holding a nicotine solution, which is then released in a vapor that the user inhales like with a typical cigarette. This gives the user the same sensation as using a normal cigarette, minus the harmful effects of tar and tobacco. Without these two factors, e-cigarettes seem like a healthier alternative to traditional smoke.
     However, e-cigarettes, because they still contain nicotine, can have an addictive effect on the user. The Center for Disease Control reports that there has been an increase in calls regarding e-cigarette poisoning from one call per month in September 2010, to 215 per month in February 2014. The calls were centered around improper usage of e-cigarettes, and accidental ingestion or inhalation of the nicotine chemicals stored inside the e-cigarette cartridge. The rise of e-cigarettes also raises warnings to parents as they are not required to be child-proofed, and the candy and fruit-flavored vapors are appealing to young children, to whom the effects of poisoning could be extremely harmful.
     E-cigs have been allowed by the federal government to bypass all regulations when it comes to advertising, including a law made in 1971 about the banning of tobacco commercials, and can advertise on television commercials as they please. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of e-cig commercials has increased 256 percent, according to the International Business Times. Additionally, RTI International conducted a study and found that AMC aired the most commercials, followed by Country Music Television and Comedy Central. With no regulations set in place, e-cig manufacturers have free reign on the media.
     In addition, studies and clinical research conducted to test the efficacy of e-cigarettes have not been ratified or turned over to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so the public still cannot know how harmful e-cigarettes are long-term. This raises concerns for doctors because there is so little information about e-cigs. According to a CDC-conducted survey, (entitled “National Youth Tobacco Survey 2011-2014”) the usage of e-cigarettes among teenagers has risen from approximately four percent in 2013 to 13 percent in 2014. The nine percent increase nationally in youths using e-cigarettes may raise many concerns in regards to the lack of research of long-term effects. The same study concluded, however, that the use of traditional cigarettes, widely known for being more harmful than their electronic counterpart, has decreased rapidly to a mere nine percent among high schoolers in 2014.
     Locally, according to a recent, informal survey involving 70 participants conducted at Hudson High School, 25 percent of participants claimed that they have sampled an e-cigarette or e-hookah, while 14 percent of them have used in the past 30 days. Despite the seemingly large numbers of e-cigarette users, 51 percent of the student body, when asked how educated they were about e-cigarettes, answered that they had little to no knowledge about them.
     The increasingly growing trend of the mysterious e-cigarette raises many questions among the medical populace, adults and students themselves. The lack of research on long-term effects due to its infancy, along with no legitimate data being produced, means that only time will tell about the true efficacy and effect that an e-cigarette may have on someone.



2015-05-19 08:16:23