Health 4-1-1

Tobacco-less trend of e-cigarettes takes hold at UH

As UH transitions to a tobacco-free campus, many students may notice a new class of smokers emerging— e-smokers. Also known as vapers, these e-cigarette users are not only making a new name for themselves, but are also creating a bump in sales records for smoking’s newest technological advancement.

The e-cigarette market has grown from $300 million in retail sales in the U.S. last year to an estimated $1.8 billion in 2013, according to Time magazine.

But with the Food and Drug Administration planning to step in sometime this month to regulate the new market, forcing some Internet-based businesses to shut down completely, some vapers who like to e-shop as well as e-smoke may have to find another place to purchase their battery-powered nicotine products.

Under pressure from at least 40 states, attorneys and federal health officials, the FDA considers regulatory measures ranging from how and where e-cigarettes are manufactured to which flavors they will allow, according to Bloomberg Businessweek and TIME.

Lack of data

Health officials are concerned about how safe vaping is to users and if the practice has any long-term effects.

“I don’t think e-cigs have been around long enough to have good research evaluating long-term effects,” said Director of Social Psychology Clayton Neighbors. “My guess is that they are no more harmful than traditional cigarettes and are probably less harmful, because they don’t actually involve inhaling smoke from burned material.”

“There are practical benefits of e-cigs. They can be used in places where regular cigarettes cannot,” Neighbors said. “They emit no smell while being used, and they leave no smell on the person using them.”

He also added that e-cigarettes eliminate the need to take a smoke break because they do not emit actual smoke and thus increase employee productivity in the workplace.

No regulations yet

As of now, the FDA has yet to release any official regulations regarding vaping, leaving e-smokers to continue smoking without stigmas associated with the traditional cigarette and giving UH students a new way to scratch their itch on their tobacco-free campus.

Still, state and federal officials balk at Center for Disease Control findings that e-cigarette use among middle and high school students more than doubled to 10 percent in 2012 from 4.7 percent a year earlier, according to Businessweek — thus the concern over seemingly childish fruit and candy flavors.

“I vape because it tastes great without all the carcinogens and also because it’s a great stress reliever without all the negative side effects,” said science senior Katie Bingaman. “And I can smoke it anywhere, like Target … and Toys R Us. It’s just vape.”

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