A campus tobacco-free policy that began Aug. 1 has pushed students to try other alternatives, including electronic cigarettes.
Smoking or any other use of tobacco is strictly prohibited on University property, facilities, grounds, parking structures, university-owned vehicles and structures owned or leased by the school. However, the policy does allow the use of these vapor-based e-cigarettes outside and away from combustible materials, which has led some students to use them.
Engineering management junior Sherif Mansour said he likes the convenience factor that comes with using e-cigarettes.
“I like not having to deal with tobacco, and it’s nice that you can keep them in your pocket without having to worry about lighting up every time,” he said.
Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are reusable. They are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine through inhaled water vapor, so they don’t need to be lit and don’t produce an odor.
Some simply deliver a flavored vapor instead of nicotine.
Business sophomore Anna Diederich prefers to use Hookah Pens, which are disposable electronic vaporizers filled with fruit-flavored liquid. They are similar to e-cigarettes in that both mechanisms electronically deliver a vapor into the body.
“It doesn’t feel the same as a cigarette, but I prefer it as an alternative to smoking,” she said.
The e-cigarette market has exploded since they were first introduced in the U.S. in 2007, going from $20 million in sales in 2008 to a projected $1 billion in 2013, according to data from Wells Fargo Securities.
Although e-cigarettes theoretically contain fewer toxins than traditional cigarettes, concrete evidence is still insufficient.
According to research from France’s National Consumer’s Institute, e-cigarettes contain the same amount of the carcinogenic compound formaldehyde as regular cigarettes. The research also supports a claim that e-cigarettes contain quite a few potentially carcinogenic chemicals like acetaldehyde.
Acetaldehyde is an air pollutant resulting from combustion, such as automotive exhaust and tobacco smoke. It has been known to cause abnormal muscle development as it binds to proteins.
Despite these potential health concerns, the U.S. Food and Drug administration has been hesitant to say that e-cigarettes are as harmful as traditional cigarettes. The agency has suggested that e-cigarettes should be regulated just as nicotine patches or nicotine gum has been regulated.
Digital culture freshman Andre Maestas said he feels e-cigarettes are beneficial to people who wish to quit smoking, because one can purchase e-cigarettes with different amounts of nicotine.
“I would say it makes quitting a lot easier, and they are a lot safer in my opinion,” he said. “It is not quite the same as actually smoking, but the sensation of putting it to your lips and puffing is better than using the patch or chewing the gum.”
According to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, 31 percent of people who have tried e-cigarettes quit smoking within six months.
The National Institute for Health Innovation at the University of Auckland in New Zealand conducted a study that found that e-cigarettes and nicotine patches have comparable success rates.
However, researchers advise that it is still too early to determine whether or not e-cigarettes actually help people quit smoking.
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