To vape or not to vape

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by Emi Nakahara, Copy Editor

Cigarette smoking has earned its notoriety as the harbinger of all medical problems–cancer, obesity, heart disease, asthma, stroke, diabetes–name any health complication, smoking will probably cause or worsen it. To satisfy that special craving for tobacco, smokers have turned to an alternative: E-cigarettes.

“I think that students feel it’s okay to use them since they think it is less harmful than using traditional cigarettes,” senior Medha Iyer said.

Traditional smoking is becoming obsolete among teenagers for the first time according to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention. In 2012, one out of every 10 high school students used e-cigarettes. 2013 involved the boom in the vaping business and decline in the tobacco industry, with 3,500 vape stores in the U.S. and roughly a dozen stores opening in some cities each year. Compared to traditional cigarettes, the electronic version is easily accessible online for those under 18, advertised as healthier and is odorless.

But as much as e-cigarette smokers support the supposedly less carcinogenic habit of vaping, recent studies prove that it may not be as harmless as they think. Within the cartridge, tobacco is usually replaced with nicotine and various other substances. Even with the absence of tobacco, nicotine carries addictive side effects that can easily increase a user’s dependence. The product has only recently been introduced in 2006, so little research as been done about its side effects.

“I’m skeptical about the whole thing,” senior Jasmine Lee said. “Personally, I would never try it.”

Current events reveal a less appealing and healthy image of e-cigarettes than users would like to imagine. In fact, the largest controversy involves the device’s exploding batteries causing burns so severe that they left four hospitalized in Seattle on Feb. 21. The Food and Drug Administration has pushed for tighter regulations on the e-cigarette industry, but court rulings have barred any such regulations. In fact, a survey by the E-cigarette Forum revealed that 79 percent of users would turn to the black market if e-cigarettes were banned.

“I think vaping is better than smoking,” senior Yamuna Nampoothiri said. “But it’s better to do neither, because it’s better to do other things you enjoy that don’t involve the potential destruction of your body.”