E-cigarettes are relatively new. Having been invented in 2003, there are a number uncertainties and changing regulations.
E-cigarettes, also known as e-cigs, are electronic devices that heat up and vaporize a variety of liquid mixtures called e-juices that simulate the experience of smoking tobacco. E-juice comes in a variety of flavors from regular tobacco to bubblegum and can also be purchased with differing levels of nicotine. Some e-juice can even contain no nicotine.
Because of how e-cigs differ from traditional tobacco products, they have a number of different regulations. Some regions have no legislation, while others have banned e-cigs completely. In Washington, local government as opposed to the state Legislature decides most of the restrictions.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health under the Environmental Health Code Chapter 9 considers e-cigarettes to be “unregulated nicotine delivery products.” Owners or lessees of land may permit the use of e-cigs only in private places, retail establishments that exclusively sell e-cig products or public places where minors are prohibited by law such as bars or casinos.
At Pierce College, the use of e-cigarettes is regulated. Smoking on campus is not allowed except in designated smoking areas. General indoor and outdoor smoking is against the rules.
“(Pierce) has the most regulations I have seen outside of an airport” said professor and e-cigarette user John Rosenthal.
Designated areas on campus allow for people to smoke, however, Rosenthal says that restricting e-cig users to these areas is not the answer. Rosenthal smokes e-juice in substitute of cigarettes. Ever since Rosenthal has switched over from cigarettes he has noticed positive changes in his health like the ability to breathe better.
E-cigs are not marketed as a means to quit smoking like medical nicotine patches or nicotine gum, but some people choose to use them that way. E-cig users who are trying to quit or who have quit smoking are exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke when restricted to the designated smoking areas. For some, this can defeat the purpose of e-cig use altogether.
“They’re as different as night and day. (An e-cig) is a nicotine delivery system, that is exactly what it is, and that’s all it is,” Rosenthal said.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health finds unregulated nicotine delivery products a threat to the public health. Section 3 of chapter 9 specifies the tests run by the United States Food and Drug Administration. These tests conclude that numerous brands of electronic smoking devices contain toxic chemicals and carcinogens in addition to nicotine.
As with any product there are many different e-cig brands and models that vary in price and quality. Cheaper disposable e-cigs exist alongside more expensive luxury models and all varieties of e-juice imaginable, each of which has a different recipe. This leaves no two e-cigs with the same health issues.
A cancelled event for e-cigs was planned by the Office of Student Life for Nov. 3. This event may have answered questions regarding general e-cigarette use and their health concerns.
For now, some questions may just remain shrouded in smoke.
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