It is common knowledge in the current year of 2015 that smoking is indeed detrimental to a person’s health and well being, but now the game has changed and consumers are now being presented with opportunities which allow them to have an experience similar to that of smoking a cigarette through supposedly more health-conscious ways, such as vaping using electronic /e-cigarettes or vape pens.
Despite companies claiming that e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to using cigarettes, Dawn Sabin, certified Mayo Clinic tobacco treatment specialist and respiratory care practitioner for Mercy Hospital wants people to know that there is nothing healthy about them.
“90% of companies selling these products are owned by tobacco companies, said Sabin. And because they aren’t FDA regulated, they can say whatever they want to make you think their products are better for you.”
Sabin describes e-cigarette use as a nation-wide epidemic. “The vapor is very harmful to your lungs and can cause airway resistance similar to an asthma attack. Some have even 4x more nicotine than a pack of cigarettes. It is especially dangerous when used by teenagers because their brain is not fully matured and it affects the pre-frontal cortex which stores your memory and attention.”
Vaping via e-cigarettes or by other means has become a trend that in recent years has seen an influx in popularity among people of all ages. There are laws set in place regulating who is able to use e-cigarettes. The legal age allowing the use and purchase of e-cigarettes in the United States varies depending on the state, however no one under the age of 18 is allowed to purchase or use e-cigarettes in any state. In Iowa the legal age for e-cigarettes is 18 due to the fact that e-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine, the addictive property found in cigarettes.
But there are other ways for those under the age of 18 to obtain e-cigarettes.
“I started using a vape-pen freshman year, but I stopped the summer before sophomore year once I realized that it contained nicotine.”, said Kennedy, junior who chose to remain anonymous. The student who provided these quotes was very candid in her interview but because she was and is still currently under the legal age required to be using such drugs, she declined to give her name out of fear for the backflash she may face from teachers and family members.
“I originally thought there was no drugs involved but when I found out that the fluid had nicotine in it, I immediately quit”, she said.
E-cigarettes are designed to look like cigarettes. When someone puffs on the e-cigarette, the system delivers a mist of liquid, flavorings, and nicotine resembling smoke. The smoker inhales it like they would cigarette smoke, and the nicotine is absorbed into the lungs.
Nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream rather quickly. Within 10 seconds of entering the body, nicotine reaches the brain. It causes the brain to release the hormone adrenaline, creating a buzz of energy and pleasure.
The buzz fades quickly, leaving the user tired, gloomy, and craving more. Since the human body is able to build up a high tolerance to nicotine, one needs to smoke more and more cigarettes in order to get the nicotine’s pleasurable effects and prevent themselves from experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
The end result of this repetitive cycle is addiction. Addiction keeps people smoking even when they want to quit.
The Manager of Hawkeye Vapor, a shop in Cedar Rapids that specializes in the selling of e-cigarettes, e-liquid, and accessories, says that 70% of people that come into the store are people that are trying to quit smoking.
“Most people that I see are older people that have been smoking for a long time and are trying to quit. 30% are kids that just turned 18 and they usually just consider vaping a hobby. We do not allow anyone under the age of 18 to purchase anything from our store, something we firmly stand by.”
The manager said that he recently heard of a study done in the UK that allegedly revealed that using e-cigarettes is 90% less harmful than using actual cigarettes but he still acknowledges that they aren’t 100% healthy.
“I would say they are better for you than cigarettes but in the end you are still putting stuff into your body which can always result in health issues, but they are a lot less dangerous than real cigarettes.”