E-Cigarettes are trending around campus. In the last two years, they have become one of the most popular methods of nicotine replacement in the nation.
On campus, E-cigs are technically considered in the same realm as cigarettes and therefore are still illegal to smoke in the dorms, classrooms, library or in any other CSU building. However, since the nicotine vapor inhaled from E-cigs is just a water vapor, smoke alarms can’t detect it when it’s exhaled.
The E-cig industry made over $1.7 billion in sales last year alone and that number is expected to increase in 2014, according to an article in The New York Times.
“I started vaping in February of last year and I noticed the need for some sort of (E-cig) outlet,” said Shane Stringer, owner of Colorado Vapors located at 2716 S. College Ave, Suite D. “I was disappointed with everything online and thought it’d be great to have an E-cig store in Fort Collins.”
Vaping, as most people call it, is the term used to describe the use of an electronic vaporizer to convert nicotine liquids into vapor in order to inhale them. Because of this, it is assumed that using an E-cig could be a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes, but since the product isn’t regulated by the FDA, there is no proof that E-cigs are less harmful than cigarettes.
“I can’t say that they’re a healthy alternative, but through our customer’s testimonials, I’ve seen that these things have really helped a lot of people quit smoking cigarettes,” Stringer said.
The E-cig trend is noticeable around campus and many students are taking advantage of help that E-cigs offer when quitting smoking.
“I had my last cigarette about three-and-a-half weeks ago,” said Luka Stojanovic, a sophomore majoring in political sciences. “I haven’t really noticed a huge difference yet, but I haven’t been coughing randomly as much lately — mainly I just like that I don’t smell like cigarettes anymore.”
After smoking for two years, Stojanovic decided to quit smoking cigarettes and start using the E-cigs as his way of getting nicotine. Stojanovic’s girlfriend, Abbey Holm — a sophomore majoring in zoology — also quit smoking and started using the E-cig about a month ago.
“I definitely feel better,” Holm said. “There’s no major differences, but when I go skiing I can breathe a lot better than I used to be able to and I don’t cough as much — I still cough, but it’s just not as gross now.”
According to CigBuyer.com, there are three main types of E-cigs; The Mini — or the “cig-a-like” — is the vaporizer that mirrors the image of a cigarette and delivers a light dosage of nicotine; The Mid-Size E-Cig — or “the eGo” — is the larger and more popular model online and is a more sufficient source of nicotine; and then there’s the APV’s — or “the Mods” — which are completely customizable and allow for various amounts of nicotine depending on what the user likes.
Although the E-cigs aren’t regulated by the FDA, they’re still being heavily tested to see if there are any health risks to the nicotine vapor. In 2009, the FDA released a study of 18 different types of nicotine cartridges from the top two leading brands of E-cig producers. They found several tobacco-specific impurities that are suspected of being health risks and they also found hints, approximately 1 percent, of diethylene glycol, which is a toxic chemical found in antifreeze.
“I know this can’t be that much better for me than smoking,” said Murphy Huebner, a sophomore studying biology. “New things always come with some sort of an error, but I think these are also a lot better for the environment — I don’t know about all the chemicals that go into it, but it’s a lot better than seeing butts all over the ground”.
Through testing, the FDA has found harmful chemicals, but they haven’t yet figured out how harmful the E-cig vapors actually are. Until they do, the industry of E-cigs seems to have a bright future.
“We see a lucrative business here,” Stringer said. “All we do is supply it and the user gets to decide how they’re going to use it.”
Collegian Reporter Rick Cookson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.