June 20, 2019 | 75° F

With vape-life on the rise, so are concerns over its safety for Rutgers students

Despite being a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, the safety of vaping and electronic-cigarettes is still uncertain

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In 2015, the electronic cigarette and vaporizer industry pooled approximately $3.7 billion in revenue with projections upward of $27 billion by 2022. 

In 2014, approximately 3.7 percent of American adults used electronic cigarettes, according to a survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The vaping and electronic-cigarette industry has grown sizably over the years as it integrates into mainstream culture. In 2015, the industry brought in an estimate of $3.7 billion in revenue, according to a Forbes report. A study published in Research and Markets on the growing trend of e-cigarettes and vaping found that the industry could possibly bring in $27 billion by the year 2022, according to cspdailynews.com.

Currently Rutgers has three vape shops on campus: Express Smoke and Vape Shop, which is on Paterson Street, Vertigo Vaporium on George Street and RU Vaping located on Easton Avenue.

Health experts agree that using a vape or an e-cigarette can be better for you than smoking tobacco. People who used an e-cigarette were exposed to significantly less carcinogens and harmful chemicals than those who smoke cigarettes, according to a study done by Cancer Research UK.

Michael Steinberg, a professor in the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said that according to his calculations, less than 15 percent of the general public in New Jersey smokes. There is a trend among young people to try new, alternative ways to use tobacco like electronic cigarettes, vaping and smoking hookah.

“I certainly think that vaping is more appealing to younger people nowadays than smoking cigarettes,” Steinberg said. “They're heavily advertised to younger adults, the flavors seem to appeal to young adults as well.”

Steinberg said that any form of smoking can cause some type of harm. Chemicals such as nicotine can be found in electronic cigarettes, and a lot of cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarettes are also found in hookah. 

He said that a 1-hour hookah session in any typical hookah lounge is the equivalent of smoking 100 cigarettes. 

Steinberg said cigarettes are the most dangerous product in our society, adding that anybody who smokes has a 50 percent chance of dying from smoking-related causes. The biggest problem with younger people smoking in college is that most of them do not expect to become addicted. Many young people view it as something to either try out or something to even pass the time. 

When it comes to vaping, Steinberg said that it has not been around long enough to know what the long-term effects are. The liquids in both vapes and electronic cigarettes have nicotine inside of them, which creates a concern that younger people who do vape could turn to smoking cigarettes later in life, he said.

Steinberg said his department also runs the Rutgers Tobacco Dependence Program, which is funded by the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. The program is free of charge and designed to help any student on campus who is addicted to tobacco products. 

He said anyone who uses tobacco products daily should seek out their services for help quiting early on.

“Many of them think ‘well, I’m not still gonna be doing this 10 or 15 years from now.’ Unfortunately nicotine is so addictive that they do become addicted and possibly long-term smokers,” Steinberg said. “We all do know about the long-term effects of smoking, but even short term can affect things like exercise, stamina, increased chance of lung infections and things like that.”

Jacob Turchi

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