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OP/ED: “Smoking is Cool”: The Real E-cigarettes

I was watching a movie in the Lifetime channel and I noticed an advertisement on E-cigarettes and it caught my attention. This commercial compared E-cigarettes to tobacco products. The comparison made me wonder what is in E-cigarettes and what is the big fuss about. I was under the assumption that smoking E-cigarettes were safe because it contains no tobacco.

E-cigarettes are defined as electronic cigarettes that are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals that turn into an aerosol that is inhaled by the user, including the highly addictive nicotine that’s in it (U.S. Food and Administration, 2014). According to the California Department of Health, E-cigarettes do not emit a harmless water vapor, but an aerosol that has been found to contain at least 10 chemicals that are on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. These toxins include chemicals like formaldehyde, lead, nickel, and acetaldehyde. The reason these chemicals are very harmful is that when it enters the body the chemicals traveled through the brain, organs and lungs, just like any other tobacco product.

California is 1 out 7 states that have restrictions on the sale of E-cigarettes to minors. More than 16 million children live in states were they can buy E-cigarettes. The biggest concern to all Californians should be on how E-cigarettes are advertised on television, social media, and billboards. Currently there are no restrictions on how e-cigarettes companies marketed the devices. The advertisements promote a “cool” factor to smoking the devices. Candy and fruit flavors promote a tasty sensation while you smoke which makes it appealing for minors to start smoking. Teen use of e-cigarettes surpassed the use of traditional cigarettes. More than twice as many 8th and 10th graders reported using e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes and 17 percent of 12th graders reported currently using e-cigarettes versus the 14 percent using traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes are similar with tobacco products, it is hazardous to allow the purchase of these products to minors and also allow people to smoke these in public areas. Policy makers questioned how to address e-cigarette use in public spaces, how to tax e-cigarettes, and how to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of children.

E-cigarettes are causing damage to the community because there are no regulations. There are many safety concerns due to the hazardous chemicals that e-cigarettes contain, which make them dangerous for people to inhale and smoke around others. Smoking E-cigarettes will lead to serious health implications; therefore, strict regulations are needed. A bill introduced in January 2015 called Senate Bill 140 will help by setting strict regulation to e-cigarettes. It will benefit by decreasing youth smokers and second-hand smoke. The next step for California residents is to contact your local legislature to help approve this bill. Passing this bill will help to improve the health of individuals, families, and the community.

Yesenia Rojas

Masters Candidate-

University Of Southern California