Dear Collegian Editorial Staff,
My name is Mackenzie Whitesell and I work as the Executive Director of Health for the Associated Students of Colorado State University (ASCSU), the student government on campus. I read your article last week entitled “CSU students using e-cigarettes to quit smoking” and the subsequent online comments. I am writing to you to reiterate the author’s point that, unlike other tobacco products and quit aids, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have not been scientifically shown to be harmless to the user or to be an effective method to quit smoking.
While students have the choice to use e-cigarettes, ASCSU wants to make sure that students are not falsely informed about the products. Although they do not produce smoke like traditional cigarettes, there is no way for users to know what the product contains. While many assume that they only contain nicotine and propylene glycol (a known irritant to the lungs), recent reports show they may contain varying amounts of other chemicals such as diethylene glycol, which is used in anti-freeze, and tobacco specific nitrosamines, which are known to cause cancer. Additionally, nicotine alone is an additive chemical that in excessive amounts can be lethal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported a spike in nicotine liquid related calls to poison control centers from one call per month in September 2010 to 215 calls per month in February of 2014.
Given the lack of scientific evidence regarding e-cigarettes, it is impossible to determine their safety. ASCSU wants students to be safe, so we advise students to keep these facts in mind when deciding whether or not to use e-cigarettes.