Every day I see it more and more frequently, students walking around or standing outside classes puffing away, not on traditional cigarettes, but on electronic cigarettes. Some even smoke them inside buildings while walking to class. This alternative to traditional cigarettes has been around for the past few years, but is just now beginning to gain popularity, especially among young people. However, little is known about the potential negative side-effects of this new craze and it worries me.
E-cigarettes were originally created to help traditional cigarette smokers quit. They took out the tobacco, which causes a number of health problems, but kept the nicotine that most people are addicted to. The problem arises within the lack of research regarding the long-term effects of nicotine usage alone and other ingredients used in e-cigarettes. While these may be a great option to help traditional cigarette smokers quit, they do create quite a problem for non-smokers and young people alike.
More and more young people see this as a no-risk option that will make them look just as cool as their cigarette-smoking friends. What they do not realize, though, is no one is claiming that there are absolutely no negative effects to smoking e-cigarettes, just that the risks are less so than those of traditional cigarette smoking. The problem arises when young people who have never touched a traditional cigarette in their lives begin using e-cigarettes under the impression that there are no long-term effects.
E-cigarettes also create a problem for non-smokers. There are much fewer restrictions regarding where they can and cannot be used. The lines are blurred since the product is tobacco-free, but it does not mean that everyone wants to smell people smoking the e-cigarettes everywhere they go. The smoking of e-cigarettes around non-smokers is simply unfair. There has been little research done on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes on their users, let alone on the effects of inhaling their vapors secondhand. While it is one thing for someone to decide to smoke on their own, it is completely different to do it around someone else, especially when the effects are unknown.
All in all the lack of research surrounding these e-cigarettes is unnerving. It reminds me of a time when traditional cigarettes were recommended by doctors who claimed they could open up your lungs and help you breathe easier. Sure, ignorance is bliss and it is easy to convince a person that something is healthy when there is a lack of research, but until I am sure that a few years down the road they will not cause cancer, I will be staying far away from e-cigarettes.