By Cinthia Jahnsen
Every night around 9pm, my husband and I rush around the house to shut all the windows. It reminds me of Mary Poppins when the cannon goes off at the neighbor’s house and everyone goes to their “posts” to prepare for the incoming blast. (If you haven’t seen Mary Poppins, it’s a must see classic!) Every night around 9pm, our neighbors begin to smoke in their backyard. We live in a neighborhood where the houses are very close together so the smell of smoke is very potent if we don’t shut the windows in time. If we are not already asleep, we open them up again after 11pm when we hope they are done.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t quite understand the appeal of smoking. Since I was a kid it was drilled into me that smoking was bad; it’s addictive, it causes cancer, makes you age prematurely, makes your house and car smell bad and is just unattractive. Why in the world would you put dangerous chemicals into your body? I drill these same principles into my own children. Lately, however, I have noticed a shift in cigarette smoking. The smells are a little different and they definitely look different to me. These new (well new to me) cigarettes are called Electronic cigarettes, or E-Cigarettes.
What are E-Cigarettes?
E-Cigarettes are battery operated cigarettes that deliver the nicotine that regular cigarettes deliver, but with flavorings and other chemicals that produce a vapor like smoke, but is actually not cigarette smoke. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, unlike cigarettes, E-cigarettes can come in a variety of designs. They can look like the traditional cigarette, or they can look like a pen or cigar pipe. Most E-cigarettes are powered by a battery and use a heating device to produce the vapors.
Who is using them?
E-cigarettes have not been around all that long. It is believed by some that they are less harmful than regular cigarettes, but they still contain harmful chemicals such as nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin and other flavorings. Some argue that E-cigarettes can actually help those trying to quit smoking regular cigarettes. But evidence is unclear if this is true and long term health risks are uncertain. One study however looked into the effects of e-cigarettes and found alarming results. It states: “In 2014, e-cigarettes became the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, surpassing conventional cigarettes. In 2015, this amounted to approximately 2.4 million U.S. middle-school and high-school students using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, according to the CDC.” One study by the Journal of American Medical Association in 2015, found that youth who started out with e-cigarettes were more likely to transition to regular cigarettes.
Because e-cigarettes come in a variety of flavors such as mint, candy, coffee or fruit flavors, youth are drawn to them. Most parents would not even be able to tell that their child was using such products due to the flavorings and lack of cigarette smoke smell. Youth under 18 are not permitted to purchase such products, but many times are able to buy e-cigarettes online and have them shipped right to their homes.
Don’t risk it.
Even though it is claimed that E-cigarettes are not as harmful as cigarettes, they are still highly addictive. Researchers are concerned with the long term effects of these products, as the product has not been around long enough to discover potential long term health risks.
The risks still outweigh the benefits when it comes to highly addictive substances. Nicotine is still a drug. The only thing taken out of the picture is the cigarette smoke. Why risk your long term health and increase your risk of becoming addicted to even more harmful drugs such as marijuana and cigarettes.