According to the World Health Organization, 1 billion people will die early due to tobacco usage within the next century. Considering cigarette smoking is the number one preventable cause of disease and death, this statistic is even more tragic. Clearly this is a huge public health concern, but what can be done?
Merely telling someone smoking cigarettes is harmful for their health is cliched and ineffective. This is where an alternative comes into play: e-cigarettes. The name may be deceptive, but these are not digital cigarettes. E-cigarettes rely on vaping, which is the process of inhaling nicotine as vapor. When users inhale, the battery in the device heats the liquid and atomizes the nicotine into an inhalable vapor.
There is a hierarchy of safety associated with these products. While obviously nothing but abstinence from tobacco-related smoking products can qualify as “healthy,” e-cigarettes only contain propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, and food flavoring – no carcinogens (like ethanol or carbon monoxide) and no secondhand smoke. In contrast, regular cigarettes contain more than 50 recognized carcinogens and over 3,500 chemicals. Research suggests the risks associated with e-cigarette use to be less than 1/1,000th than that of smoking tobacco.
Because vaping is a fairly new practice, its long-term health effects are unknown. The American Heart Association classified e-cigarettes as a last-resort method of quitting traditional cigarettes. Doctors consistently recommend that smokers who cannot quit switch to e-cigarettes, as they are found to be more instrumental in cessation than nicotine patches and gum. If you or someone you know is trying to quit, a helpful list of hints exists here.
We continue to be a tobacco-free campus. To report a violation of Georgia Southern’s tobacco usage policy, please visit http://www.georgiasouthern.edu/tobaccofree/incident-report-form/.