E-cig vapor shrouded in health concerns


Linda Hexter

A man smokes an e-cig on the street

Caleb Beck

According to a study in the Journal of American College Health in June 2015, the use of electronic cigarettes, known as an e-cig, among college students is exponentially on the rise even though a cloud of vapor is rarely seen anywhere near Loyola’s campus.

While studies have not found  the health risks associated with traditional cigarettes in e-cigs, cessation experts and health care professionals are hesitant to suggest them to their clients in order to help them quit.

Loyola’s Human Resources website said the uncertainty around e-cigs is why they are included in the campus-wide ban on smoking and tobacco products that is nearly a year into effect.

“E-cigarettes have not been fully studied, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so consumers currently don’t know the potential risks of them when used as intended, how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being used, or whether there are any benefits associated with using these products,” the website read.

Gil Lerma, Loyola staff counselor, said he is unsure that the rise of electronic cigarette use has positive implications.

“I do not recommend electronic cigarettes to anyone who is looking to quit tobacco use or who is looking for a tobacco alternative. I hear the word ‘safer’ being used a lot when advertisers are referring to electronic cigarettes,” Lerma said. “The fact of the matter is that electronic cigarettes have not been around long enough so that researchers can conduct clinical trials to determine the long-term effects of the use of electronic cigarettes.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, regardless of delivery manner, nicotine is highly addictive.

The CDC estimated that 40 million adults currently smoke cigarettes daily, and their prevalence has led them to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths
every year.

This could be why the $2.7 billion e-cig industry’s sales pitch of nicotine without the consequences can be so attractive.

Beyond a lack of long-term evidence against vaping, health professionals are concerned that electronic cigarette use from adolescents introduces a fixation on nicotine that could lead to analog cigarettes if their presence was more available and cravings needed to be slaked.

Andrew Landry, history junior,  said that in his experience, not using e-cigarettes for cessation purposes made him more inclined to start smoking cigarettes.

“I used disposable e-cigarettes for a while, and enjoyed the vapor they produced, but when they would inevitably run out, I started bumming cigarettes from friends and eventually started buying packs,”
Landry said.

Joseph Gehringer, English junior, said that negative stigma around e-cig could cause unforeseen consequences.

“I think the rise of satirical memes mocking vaping on social media has led to a negative stigma around the vaping,” Gehringer said. “Mocking vaping is a sure fire way to ensure that smokers continue to purchase and consume regular cigarettes.”