Electronic cigarettes have made their way onto college campuses, and some students are trading in their traditional smokes for these trendy new devices. However, these new gadgets are the subject of a brewing debate, and many institutions aren’t exactly embracing them.
Rider has yet to develop any policies regarding the use of electronic cigarettes on campus. There are many unknowns to consider as the topic is discussed.
A supposedly healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes, electronic cigarettes produce vapor rather than smoke. The devices use a battery to heat a liquid mixture of flavor and nicotine, producing a vapor that is inhaled.
Independently owned shops are popping up across the country, creating a booming industry that is attracting smokers for various reasons. Some are switching to electronic cigarettes in an attempt to erase their nicotine addiction forever, while others are simply opting to satisfy their craving for the chemical from the comfort of their couch.
There are numerous models of electronic cigarettes, from simplistic models that can be purchased at any tobacco-selling store, to fancier versions that can be filled with hundreds of flavors and varying levels of nicotine.
From cinnamon toast crunch to mocha, smokers can choose from an endless array of flavors. The vapor that is exhaled smells like the liquid inside of the electronic cigarette, and is allegedly harmless.
Many are using these devices to ditch their bad habit altogether. According to Forbes.com, “8% of adults who smoked in the last 12 months” used electronic cigarettes to try to quit. Users can start at a higher level of nicotine and slowly decrease the percentage until their nicotine dependence is nonexistent. If you still want to continue using an electronic cigarette, you can switch to a liquid with no nicotine.
Another benefit of these devices is the low cost in comparison to smoking tobacco cigarettes. A starter kit that generally includes the device, a battery, a charger and a liquid can cost anywhere from $50 to $100. An electronic cigarette user estimates that it costs about $15 a month for new batteries and liquid to refill the device.
Electronic cigarettes are great in theory, but just how healthy are they? Accidental exposure to the nicotine liquid has triggered a dramatic rise in the number of phone calls being made to poison control centers. Many of these reports involve children who, attracted by the sweet smells and flavors, drank the liquid. Others involved users who accidentally got the liquid on their skin or in their eyes.
Electronic cigarettes are not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, making it impossible to have much faith in the listed ingredients and stated nicotine levels in the liquid. Also, because the devices do not contain tobacco, there is no age requirement to purchase one.
Manufacturers advertise that electronic cigarettes can be smoked anywhere because they do not produce secondhand smoke, but many companies, institutions and even entire countries are banning the use of these devices because there is not any research to back up this safety claim. Some have reported that the vapor irritates the eyes, nose and throat, and many argue that the use of electronic cigarettes in public places should be banned until the lack of side effects is proven.
Singapore and Brazil are among a growing list of countries that have completely banned the devices, and cities such as New York and Los Angeles have banned their use in many public places, Reuters.com reported.
Another area of concern comes with the psychological effects it can have. Many companies are banning the devices in an effort to prevent tobacco smokers or ex-smokers from being distracted in the workplace.
So how do electronic cigarettes fit into our community here at Rider? With the side effects still largely unknown, should Rider join the list of institutions that are banning the devices?
The Huffington Post revealed that most of the universities in the University of California system are implementing a complete prohibition of tobacco and electronic cigarettes.
As a university, Rider’s goal is to provide its students with a quality education and a safe and healthy learning environment. Until concrete research is conducted to provide information regarding the side effects of electronic cigarettes, the devices should not be allowed indoors.
While they may provide a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking or a path to ditching a nicotine addiction, these positives do not outweigh the potential negative effects on others.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News.
This week’s editorial was written by Copy Editor Sarah Bergen
Printed in the 4/9/14 edition.