With the increased use of the electronic cigarette swiftly gaining momentum across the globe, the relatively new nicotine craze has managed to lodge itself amidst the nation’s young adult population.
An electronic cigarette is essentially just a battery-powered tube that resembles a stereotypical cigarette in appearance. However, rather than harboring tobacco leaves, it instead contains a battery-operated heating component that converts a refillable, liquid chemical into a vapor mist. This mist is then inhaled into the lungs just as one would treat a generic cigarette, and, whereas the tobacco is absent, nicotine is still a dominant component of the electronic cigarettes.
Invented by Hon Lik, a Chinese inventor and pharmacist, in 2003, the product was initially introduced to the United States in 2006, where it was soon banned in several states (not including Florida) for its low FDA ratings. The FDA found that electronic cigarettes contain a chemical called diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze, along with a variety of other toxic carcinogens.
Junior Nick Laverde has had firsthand experience with electronic cigarettes ever since he was introduced to them by friends.
“I mean, it’s just another form of smoking, so it’s interesting to do, but I’m still smoking regular cigarettes too,” said Laverde.
Laverde denied that he’s been trying to quit smoking, but is open to experimentation with smoking the new electronic cigarettes.
“They both have their own feelings, so I don’t think real cigarettes will become obsolete, but I’m sure a lot more people will be trying the new technology of smoking electronic cigarettes,” said Laverde.
Senior Megan Riggs has also noticed the influx of teens smoking electronic cigarettes after witnessing friends partake in the new phenomenon.
“It’s just like any other high school phase. Kids are doing it because it’s cool, not because they’re actually trying to quit smoking,” said Riggs.
Resource Deputy Anthony Bennett feels the use of electronic cigarettes is not a major cause for concern based on the small number that have been discovered in student’s possessions this year.
“Basing my opinion on searches that I’ve witnessed within recent history both on and off campus, I don’t consider electronic cigarettes specifically as a major problem with today’s youth. However, keeping in mind that according to Florida law, no one under the age of 18 should be in possession of any tobacco product, electronic cigarettes fall within that same category,” said Bennett.
Today, about 2.5 million Americans smoke electronic cigarettes, according to a survey published earlier this year by the University of Alberta, School of Public Health. Despite their virtually unknown side effects, many have hopped on the bandwagon, either trying to quit their tobacco habits or simply looking for an alternative nicotine experience.
Overall, electronic cigarettes have become popular amongst the student body but so far pose no immediate threat to harming any indivuals on campus.
“I think it’s a healthy alternative to smoking regular cigarettes.”
“I don’t think they really help people quit because you can still get hooked on them.”
“I think that they’re good, as far as getting out of being addicted, given that there’s a lot less nicotine.”
“I think they’re better than normal cigarettes, because they don’t have all the chemicals, but still contain the nicotine that people want.”
“I guess they’re good in some ways, because it helps them try to quit smoking, but I think that they’re just a waste [for kids].”
Hannah Crosby / Senior Staff Writer