Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Students switch from vape to cigarette habits

Sophia Maxim
A student lights a cigarette at an off-campus music event on April 20, 2024.

Some Loyola students are switching from vaping to smoking cigarettes. The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control banned six major vape brands in March 2024. Design junior Daniel Garces speculates this may have influenced a shift in student habits.

“Compared to my other semesters here, I have seen way less vapes on students,” Garces said. “Seeing a cigarette used to be rare, but now it’s just a common sight.”

After the vape brand bans, local smoke shops increased their prices, Garces said. Now, The Boot store and other smoke shops only carry off-brand vapes, according to Garces. The price increase and lower quality of vape stock now deter students from buying vapes, he said.

“One complaint I’ve repeatedly heard is that The Boot has raised the price of vapes, taking full advantage of the scarcity and ban,” he said. “Prices used to be around $15. Now, it’s around $30, plus tax.”

Popular and commercial music junior Maddie Polley believes the ban has had minimal success in combating nicotine addictions. Instead, Polley said the ban has pushed some Loyola students to start smoking cigarettes.

“I think that people should be able to put whatever chemicals they want in their body,” Polley said. “But I do understand why they were banned because I feel like the vaping culture has gotten really big, especially with younger people under 21. I understand the ban, but I still think banning substances is kind of stupid.”

Although Polley said she understands the reasoning behind the ban, she believes the goal of tackling nicotine use with young adults will be unsuccessful.

“I feel like the ban on vapes maybe is changing some peoples’ minds, maybe, but overall, I don’t really think that it’s doing much to be honest,” she said. “When people are addicted to something, they’re going to find a way to get it no matter what.”

Garces said the increased cigarette use reflects a cultural phenomenon fueled online.

“It’s also been a trend on social media to pick up cigarettes, so I think the ban allowed that transition to happen smoothly,” he said. “It’s easy to tell on a night out who’s smoking cigs to fit an aesthetic, especially if they’re posing with it for pictures.”

According to Garces, some student attitudes are changing in favor of cigarettes and against vapes.

“I’ve heard people say they prefer cigarettes because it’s cheaper and looks cooler than hitting a colored stick with flavored air,” he said.

Student perceptions around vapes and cigarettes vary. Some believe vapes pose more unknown health risks.

However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated in 2023 that vapes are less harmful than regular cigarettes. Vape aerosol contains fewer toxic chemicals than the mix of 7,000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes, the CDC said.

“I don’t think vaping is better, to be honest. I think it’s worse,” Polley expressed.

According to Polley, cigarette habits have had less noticeable effect on her health than vapes because of the amount she was vaping before.

“Vaping really affected my voice, and it really affected my respiratory system in general,” she said. “I was coughing a lot more. Once I stopped vaping, I was able to take a deep breath.”

Polley believes her cigarette habit is less disruptive and less frequent than their former vaping habit.

“My own personal philosophy is that with a vape, it’s accessible at any time,” she said. “So you’d be vaping in a car, or inside, or in bed, but with a cigarette you have to go outside, and it’s more like a treat. You have to work for it more because it’s like, you know, acoustic nicotine. It’s more poetic.”

From high school to college, Polley estimated she spent $4,000 on vapes. She said the habit was more expensive and compulsive than smoking.

“Praying to St. Anthony to find my vape – that’s how I knew I was in the trenches,” she said.

Garces believes there is an increase in both Loyola and Tulane students smoking more.

He said he’s seen students smoking cigarettes in between classes, at bars and parties, and in the park.

“You can walk into any college bar in the area that has a smoke patio, and it’s wild to see how many people have a cigarette pack with them and how many people are hitting cigarettes as well,” Garces said.

Polley said smoking cigarettes is a social activity and a conversation-starter when going out.

“How many people do you meet who ask, ‘Oh, can I bum a cigarette? Oh, do you have a lighter?’” she said.

Now, taking smoke breaks with friends is an enjoyable part of her week.

“Switching to cigarettes now, I feel like it’s more of a treat,” she said. “It’s more ritualistic than hitting a vape.”

Despite her preference, Polley said she hopes to quit smoking and warns against it.

“As a smoker myself, I don’t recommend picking up smoking,” Polley said. “It is an addiction. It is something that I wish that I didn’t have in my life.

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About the Contributor
Sophia Maxim
Sophia Maxim, Editor in Chief
Sophia Maxim is a multimedia journalist and designer from Atlanta, GA. She is The Maroon’s incoming Editor in Chief and previously served as Managing Editor for Print and Design Chief. She is a visual communication junior with a design minor. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the city, listening to podcasts, and collaborating on creative projects. Sophia can be reached at [email protected].

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