The invention of the electronic cigarette was originally seen as a helpful tool to help long term smokers avoid the more harmful components of cigarette smoke. However, e-cigarettes are being increasingly used by children as young as middle school with products like Juuls, a small USB shaped device.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, of current e-cig users ages 18-24, 40 percent had not previously smoked cigarettes.
While it is recognized that using e-cigs, or vaping, is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, it is still not safe. In the liquid of e-cigs, sometimes called vape juice, there could be volatile organic compounds, ultrafine particles or carcinogens. Most vape juice contains nicotine, which is detrimental to a young adult’s developing brain. Nicotine can damage sections of the brain that modulate impulse control, learning and attention. Juul pods specifically have the same amount of nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes.
On Sept. 28, the Food and Drug Administration carried out a surprise inspection of Juul headquarters. After the unexpected visit, the FDA left with over a thousand documents associated with Juul’s sales and marketing operations. This was seen as another example of the FDA’s crackdown on vape manufacturers after it declared that levels of teenage vaping have grown to, “an epidemic proportion.”
Some lawmakers have even proposed banning e-cigs. On Oct. 10, the chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, announced in a speech that her government was drafting legislation to ban the shipment, production, purchase, distribution and marketing of vapes in the interest of public health.
Because of the relative novelty of vaping among young adults, there has not been research into the long term health implications of e-cig usage.
On Oct. 2, students received an email prompting them to fill out a survey that would contribute to vaping research. Assistant professor of Nursing Susan Bartos, Ph.D., is conducting a study about vaping experiences and perceptions among college students.
The aims of the study are to understand the prevalence of vaping at Fairfield, the setting in which students vape and the general awareness of and feelings toward vaping.
The survey disseminated to Fairfield students has already been taken by students at Sacred Heart University. According to Bartos, the data provided by the survey would be incredibly valuable to researchers as vaping becomes more widespread.
“As Fairfield University continues to move in the direction of a 100 percent tobacco-free environment, understanding vaping behaviors will allow for better educational and support interventions for those in need,” Bartos wrote in an email to The Mirror.
Students interested in completing the survey should do so before data collection closes on Oct. 19.