By CHAD CARTER – STAFF WRITER
There are many methods to quit smoking, a universally-acknowledged unhealthy habit. For years, nicotine patches, nicotine gum and quitting “cold turkey” have been commonly used to help smokers quit. Recently electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, have become an increasingly popular option. E-cigarettes use a battery to vaporize liquid nicotine, allowing the nicotine to be absorbed into the bloodstream without any tobacco products.
E-cigarettes market the sensation of smoking and the effects of nicotine without the cancer-causing tar, carbon monoxide and additives in traditional cigarettes.
They come in a variety of flavors and nicotine levels: one drop of nicotine liquid can contain as much nicotine as one cigarette.
The suggested method for quitting smoking with e-cigarettes is to slowly decrease the nicotine level until dependency disappears. The user still experiences the feeling of smoking, but the vapor disperses faster than cigarette smoke, is not foul smelling, and can taste delicious.
Due to the fact that e-cigarettes do not produce actual smoke, they are preferable for indoor smoking. In general, e-cigarettes are considered to be more safe and convinient than traditional cigarettes.
In the last few months, however, both Danville and Centre College have banned the use of e-cigarettes in indoor locations.Last month, Centre College changed its smoking policy to ban the use of e-cigarettes inside smoke-free facilities, including residence halls.
“The product has still not been tested and approved by the FDA,” Centre Human Resources Committee Chair Megan Milby said. “It is not yet clearly determined by research what hazardous chemicals are released into the air by e-cigarettes and what the effects are on other people, but the information available suggests there are risks involved.”
Parsons Student Health Center Physician Assistant Amanda Goodwin addressed some of the risks of this new fad.
“You are inhaling chemicals other than nicotine when you smoke an e-cigarette, they just haven’t been fully researched yet,” Goodwin said.
“We may find out they are just as harmful as cigarettes.”
In addition to the risks of unknown chemicals, e-cigarettes use deceptive marketing techniques.
“E-cigarette proponents attempt to de-vilify nicotine by likening it to caffeine, saying they are both stimulants with the potential to become addictive,” Goodwin said.
“But that is not an accurate comparison; someone missing their morning cup of coffee may have a headache or not be as alert, but nicotine withdrawal is as severe as a heroine withdrawal according to research.”
Some worry that e-cigarettes could potentially introduce non-smokers or even children to nicotine.
“Many times these manufacturers are some of the big tobacco players. They throw in some candy colors and fruit flavors, which are banned in tobacco cigarettes, to make them seem as inviting and innocuous as a pack of Bubblicious,” Goodwin said. The ease of purchasing e-cigarettes online caters to minors.
“Minors who can’t legally buy cigarettes or e-cigarettes in stores will be able to get e-cigarettes online, and start a nicotine addiction that may lead to a tobacco addiction,” Goodwin said. These are the risks the Human Resources Committee considered when making the decision to ban e-cigarettes indoors.
“The committee determined there were still many unanswered questions surrounding e-cigarettes and it was best to safeguard the well-being of the campus community,” Milby said.
“We reviewed smoking policies from several institutions of higher education and most of them included e-cigarettes, and more specifically, cigars, pipes, and water pipes. After thoughtful consideration, the Committee agreed, for reasons of public health, to amend the former smoking policy to now include e-cigarettes.”
Despite these potential risks, are e-cigarettes still an effective method for quitting smoking? Many people claim e-cigarettes have helped them quit smoking tobacco, but Goodwin maintains that “cold turkey” is still the best way for anyone looking to quit.
“In my experience with patients who have successfully stopped smoking, the most reliable way of quitting was ‘cold turkey,’” Goodwin said.
“People are less successful at quitting during a high-stress time in their lives, so finals week is not the time to quit, but Christmas break would be. Pick a date and tell all your friends you’re quitting, throw away all your cigarettes, and stick to your word. It’s hard but people do quit every day.”
Cigarettes pose deadly health risks to those who use them, and electronic cigarettes present an attractive alternative that continues to grow in popularity. E-cigarettes remain untested, so it is up to potential users to weigh the known risks of cigarettes with the possible unseen dangers of the newest trend in nicotine consumption.
To Centre students, whether smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes, the rules are now the same: smoke outside.