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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Opinion

Despite campus tobacco ban, misleading marketing may lead to increased e-cig use


Callie Parrish//The Daily Cougar

Callie Parrish//The Daily Cougar

According to the tobacco-free campus policy, “effective June 2013, the University of Houston is designated as a tobacco-free campus.”

However, the University isn’t requiring faculty, staff and students to quit using tobacco products. But “tobacco users are expected to adhere to the policy and be respectful to ex-tobacco users and non-tobacco users,” according to the policy.

But while electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco, the tobacco-free campus policy also bars them. The reason that e-cigarettes may be banned alongside normal cigarettes is because they are associated with the smoking culture.

At first, it would seem that e-cigs would be the way to go for those who smoke. In the Mayoclinic.org article “Electronic Cigarettes: A Safe Way To Light Up,” author Lowell Dale said, “Manufacturers claim that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes. However, the FDA has questioned the safety of these products.”

E-cigarettes may be more dangerous than once thought. It was discovered not too long ago that carcinogens were found in samples. “A 2009 FDA analysis of e-cigarettes from two leading brands found that the samples contained carcinogens and other hazardous chemicals, including diethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze,” according to the Huffington Post.

Also, there are hardly any laws regarding the sale of e-cigarettes to young people. “Only about 20 states specifically forbid the sale of e-cigarettes to children,” said Jen Christensen on CNN. According to the Huffington Post, “Unlike other tobacco products, e-cigarettes can be sold to minors in many places throughout the country.”

What’s really sad is that younger and younger people are trying e-cigarettes, and many believe that this will lead to actual cigarette smoking. “Critics point out e-cigarettes come in kid-friendly flavors such as gummy bear, atomic fireball candy and cookies and cream,” Christensen said. “It makes them worry that e-cigarettes will become a gateway to encourage kids to develop a lifelong nicotine addiction — or worse, try the real thing.”

With flavors like that, it certainly seems to be the case that e-cigarette manufacturers are trying to get kids to try their products.

What’s rather scary and shocking is that Philip Morris International is now adopting e-cigarettes, according to Lydia Depillis for The Washington Post.

E-cigarettes are currently a substitute to cigarettes. But if marketed correctly, e-cigarettes could be used as supplements. It may be out of the ordinary, but it wouldn’t be a big surprise if this is the real reason why Phillip Morris International is adopting e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are often marketed as a way to quit smoking cigarettes. At first, it would seem that they would be a good alternative for those who smoke on campus, because of the ban on tobacco products. But a New Zealand study about smokers trying to kick the habit suggests otherwise. The study covered three groups of smokers trying to quit: those using e-cigarettes, the patch, and a placebo.

“Over a period of six months, only a tiny fraction of the people in the study that used e-cigs actually quit smoking,” Christensen said. Since it was found that using e-cigarettes does not necessarily improve your chances of quitting smoking, it is ludicrous that they are marketed as such.

Since e-cigarettes are unsuccessful at helping smokers quit, marketing them this way will lead many smokers to waste money on them in hopes of quitting, which will ultimately lead to failure in many cases. So it may be a moot point to argue over the inclusion of e-cigarettes in the tobacco-free campus policy. No, e-cigarettes aren’t as harmless as they were thought to be. In fact, they may be a gateway to actual cigarette smoking and may encourage others to smoke.

E-cigarettes can be smoked just about anywhere, but not on campus. Also, because those who are trying to kick the habit by using e-cigarettes were found not to be very likely to successfully quit smoking, it would be pointless to say it’s OK to smoke e-cigarettes on campus as a safe alternative to smoking. Sounds like a moot point to me.

Opinion columnist Callie Parrish is a math and arts senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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