Got E-cigarette?

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A state-of-the-art electronic cigarette, or e-cig.

DeAnna Hettinger

The electronic cigarette, otherwise known as the “e-cigarette” or “e-cig,” has burst onto the smoking scene with a fury.

For smoking cessation, we smokers have patches and gum with different levels of nicotine in them. Approved by the FDA, for smokers. Electronic cigarettes are an alternative method of consuming nicotine.

The side effects of prescribed medication can mimic the same symptoms we are trying eliminate. The bottom line is, smokers sometimes exchange one drug and one set of symptoms for another. It all boils down to personal choices.

I happen to be a partaker who has landed on planet e-cig. Though there are many personal reasons for switching to them from regular cigarettes, my motive is to stop smoking completely. I have already cut down to one to two cigarettes a day.
“I do believe that E-cigarettes are the way of the future. I have talked to many people who have been able to quit, as I had,” said Santa Rosa Junior College student Thomas McEwen.

E-cigs are battery-powered devices that convert liquid nicotine into a mist or vapor that the user inhales. There’s no fire, no ash and no smoky smell, although you might end up smelling like black licorice or root beer.

The store I frequent, Digital Ciggz in Santa Rosa, is expanding and opening a new store due to high demand. “We proudly serve 100-plus customers each and everyday at Digital Ciggz,” said owner Michael Mullen. “The ages range from 25 to 65, men and women alike, which I think is great because it’s so important that the older generation be just as comfortable adopting this new alternative to smoking.”
E-cigarettes do not contain all of the harmful chemicals associated with smoking tobacco cigarettes, such as carbon dioxide and tar. There are, however, studies that show they are not completely chemical free.

Everyone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the American Medical Association has claimed electronic cigarettes to be controversial.
“E-cigarette use is growing rapidly,” said CDC Doctor Tom Frieden, “There is still a lot we don’t know about these products, including whether they will decrease or increase use of traditional cigarettes.”

There is no scientific proof one way or another of their effects on the human system over time. In the short term, they can serve to remove approximately at least 500 different kinds of carcinogens from the body, while inhaling vapor instead of tobacco.

The liquid or “smoke juice” that fills the cartridges is usually propylene glycol, an additive that the FDA has approved for use in food. Fog machines that create a smoky atmosphere at stage shows also use propylene glycol. Consumers can buy cartridges containing different amounts of nicotine, or no nicotine at all. Manufacturers usually add flavorings to the liquid.

Although the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the e-cig as a smoking cessation device, manufacturers and satisfied customers say the e-cig is a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes, which causes millions of deaths every year. Some users say e-cigs have helped reduce their “smoker’s cough,” sharpened their senses of taste and smell, and even improved their sleep.

NJOY, based out of Scottsdale, Arizona, is the most popular electronic cigarette brand in America and is known as the industry’s gold standard due to its best-in-class products, patent-pending technology, superior branding, and experienced management team. The company recently announced the results of a pilot study that has been accepted for publication in the American Journal of Health Behavior and will be published online on Oct. 1 2013. “NJOY is actively engaged in expanding the scientific research on the health effects of electronic cigarettes and their potential to reduce the harms associated with traditional tobacco cigarettes,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, former Surgeon General of the United States and the Chair of NJOY’s scientific advisory committee. “These preliminary findings underscore the need for further research on the category and its potential for harm reduction.”

E-cigarette companies sell their products in retail stores, but also increasingly online. Some mimic the appearance of tobacco cigarettes, while others look like cigars, pipes and even pens. Cartridges typically last about as long as a pack of 20 tobacco cigarettes and sell for about $10 each. Consumers can also purchase bottles of e-liquid and refill the cartridges themselves. This reduces the cost, generally making e-cigs cheaper to smoke than tobacco cigarettes.

Tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes are not against the law. Unfortunately, there are those who set a bad example for the rest of us conscious “vapers,” smoking indoors or in crowded outdoor spaces.

The SRJC campuses prohibit smoking of any kind, including the use of electronic cigarettes, on all property, indoor and outdoor. Santa Rosa Junior College’s already established policy of no smoking tobacco or related products was updated this month. The most notable change was the clear banning of electronic cigarettes.

With the current information at hand, and with my earnest motive to quit smoking tobacco and electronic cigarettes, I have come to the personal conclusion that the e-cig is the lesser of two evils.