Electronic cigarettes are igniting controversy. Advertisements show an individual freely using them in public areas. Although people may have a haphazard view of allowing electronic cigarettes outside of designated smoking areas, closer speculation may counter this.
Electronic cigarettes are different from tobacco cigarettes. Currently, the general substances contained in its liquid vapor are propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, polyethylene glycol 400, various flavoring and varied amounts of nicotine. These substances, except for nicotine, are considered to be generally safe to humans by the Food and Drug Administration.
Because these ingredients are considered harmless, nicotine is the major argument that hinders electronic cigarettes. Levels of nicotine in electronic cigarettes vary, ranging from zero milligrams to about 36 mg. It’s a person’s choice to inhale this addictive substance, however, the real question is whether or not the exhaled vapor is a hazard to others.
A study conducted at RIT Undergraduate Research and Innovation Symposium investigated the amount of emissions released by a Blu eCigs electronic cigarette that contained 16 mg of nicotine. It was concluded that the electronic cigarette released 90.5 percent less emissions into the air compared to the average emissions released by tobacco cigarettes.
Similarly, the peer-reviewed journal, Tobacco Control, published a study that revealed results parallel to the previous experiment. The study found that 12 different brands of electronic cigarettes had nine to 450 times less toxins in its vapor compared to tobacco cigarettes. This appears a better alternative to emitting tobacco smoke that gives off more than 4,000 chemicals.
So it appears that second hand vapor is mild in its severity. However, some still argue that, mild or not, exposing others to it is wrong. But how long does this vapor actually last in the air?
Based on personal observation and several website articles examining vapor, it only stays in the air for a matter of seconds, so it wouldn’t cause same discomfort as looming tobacco smoke.
Additionally, electronic cigarettes don’t produce that obnoxious tobacco smell. If there’s any scent at all, it’s a mild scent that comes with whatever flavor the electronic cigarette liquid is.
Aside from how these devices work, what does the law say about allowing them in public places?
In terms of Pierce College District policy, both campuses are considered non-smoking with designated smoking areas that are not within any building or within 30 feet of an entrance. However, are electronic cigarettes considered smoking?
It wouldn’t seem so. Electronic cigarettes don’t emit smoke. The only Pierce College policy that makes explicit mention to electronic cigarettes is the policy for the libraries at the Puyallup and Ft. Steilacoom campuses.
In not mentioning the disallowance of electronic cigarettes in the Pierce College District policy, it could be argued that electronic cigarettes are legal to have outside of designated smoking areas.
It shouldn’t be neglected, though, that there’s still much unknown about electronic cigarettes. Both ends of this argument have yet to rest until more concrete evidence is brought forth.
For now, it’s just puffs for thought.
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