Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

E-cigs should be regulated

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College students have long had an oral fixation with the various tobacco products that line the shelves of nearly every convenience store. The dangers of traditional smoking are well documented, but the safety debate continues over new technology like e-cigarettes and vapor pens. While it’s fairly obvious students should approach all forms tobacco with caution, e-cigarettes and vapor pens should come under extra scrutiny because there is not yet conclusive evidence of their health effects.

Because of tobacco’s wide availability and effective marketing campaigns that target young adults, it is often a staple on many college campuses. Despite the best efforts of tobacco companies, smoking rates among students are actually declining. In fact, between 2011 and 2014, the amount of high school students who smoked cigarettes decreased from 15.8 percent to 9.2 percent according to the Center for Disease Control. According to the study, cigarettes and cigars may be replaced by a fairly new and potentially harmful product: e-cigarettes or e-cigs.

Unlike traditional smoking rates, e-cig use is on the rise. The CDC study found that e-cig use among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent to 13.4 percent over the same four years.

Because the e-cig business is fairly new, regulations are slow to catch up to the booming industry resulting in a flood of vapor devices and accessories on the market.

Aside from the chemical vapor that they produce, the mechanisms that power e-cigs can also present a risk. Just this summer, a Florida man named James Lauria was severely burned after the e-cig he was smoking exploded in his face and left a hole in his cheek. Of course this isn’t a regular occurrence, but it illustrates the lack of knowledge and regulatory oversight when it comes to vapor products.

Vapor devices remain legal throughout the country, but their health effects are largely unknown. A study conducted by The National Center for Biotechnology Information confirmed that the health effects of e-cigs are largely unknown and their effectiveness as an aid to quit smoking is inconclusive.

“E-cigarettes contain very low levels of multiple toxic substances such as formaldehyde and acrolein, but these levels are many times lower than those found in cigarettes,” the study concluded. “They were found to have effectiveness in aiding smoking cessation to a limited degree. Debate continues regarding regulating their use for cessation versus heavy restrictions to control recreational use on the basis that it perpetuates nicotine addiction.”

There is also the issue of secondhand consumption when e-cigs are used in public. Just as a cloud of cigarette smoke can fill the air with unwanted odors and substances, so can e-cigs and similar devices. While e-cigs don’t create smoke, they do release a chemical vapor into the air, one that many in the student body find unpleasant.

Oshkosh Student Association President , Jordan Schettle said despite the fact he has received complaints about e-cig use on campus, they remain unrestricted in buildings at UWO.

“Due to the issue of e-cigarettes and vaporizer pens not violating the Wisconsin Clean Air Act and the lack of a policy banning such devices, they are currently allowed in buildings on campus,” Schettle said.

Schettle said both OSA and the Faculty Senate attempted to address the issue last year but did not pass any resolutions.

“The Faculty Senate’s resolution promoted the banning of the devices, and OSA’s resolution was a watered-down version of addressing the issue in future years after more medical research has been conducted,” Schettle said.

Even as a smoker of e-cigs himself, UWO student Andrew Lenzner thinks that vapor products should be subject to regulation.

“Whenever you introduce a foreign substance to the body there is a sight risk involved,” Lenzner said. “Until further studies are conducted on second hand exposure, [e-cigs] should be regulated like traditional smoking.”

Although she does not smoke them, senior Shannon Reed said she felt the same way about e-cigs.

“E-cigs should be treated just like normal cigarettes because there have not been enough studies,” Reed said. “I don’t want someone else to make a medical choice for me.”

All students have the right to their personal freedoms, including e-cig use, but no one has the right to put someone else’s health at risk. Indoor e-cig use is potentially harmful and should fall under the same legal category as other tobacco products.

The line between casual use of nicotine and addiction to it can easily become hazy at a time when many students are transitioning into the college lifestyle. With the increased social pressure along and newly found freedom that college offers, it’s easy to get sucked into the trap of addiction. E-cigs are just another pitfall peddled by the tobacco industry and students at UWO would be wise to avoid them

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