By Thomas Grubb | Co-Editor
Ever since the invention of the cigarette in Raleigh by Washington Duke in 1865, kids have been smoking in school, so much so that multiple songs have been written about this very topic.
Fortunately, students are starting to move away from those times towards a less damaging and cancer-inducing option, the e-cigarette.
In the past 18 months, e-cigarettes have become almost a staple of everyday life for 1 out of 5 teenagers, writes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on its website (2017).
The FDA also claims that teen smoking has decreased by 30 percent since 2014 (with a key reason for the decline the FDA attributes to its own ad campaign).
The Surgeon General in Dec. 2016 reported “that the flavors in e-cigarettes are one of the main reasons youth use them, e-cigarette aerosol is not safe and that e-cigarette use is strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products among youth and young adults.”
The Surgeon General also “concluded that e-cigarette use among youth is now a significant public health concern and steps must be taken by parents, educators and especially policymakers to discourage use of e-cigarettes.” (www.lung.org)
But other sources, such as the largest tobacco company in the U.S., Altria, contributes to the rise of e-cigarettes.
The varieties are endless for e-cigarettes, too, with multiple companies offering multiple units, flavors, pods, and other accessories.
The biggest e-cigarette company, Juul, has already become a staple of a new generation, with many lesser known companies falling in close behind.
Fortunately, these e-cigarettes are nowhere near as damaging as cigarettes once were.
No conclusive evidence has proven any health drawback from short term e-cigarette use, and it is not illegal for a minor to possess an e-cigarette.
However, it is illegal for a minor to obtain an e-cigarette from someone over 18, but the responsibility falls upon the distributor, not the consumer, making it very easy and relatively risk free for a minor to possess one of these products.
APA, though, does ban the use of e-cigarette on school property, and students caught with e-cigarettes commit a Level II offense (punishable by after-school work and/or suspension).
The FDA has placed these products under the same umbrella as all tobacco products, meaning a consumer must be over the age of 18.
What the FDA is really looking to limit is the nicotine consumption of those under 18, when the brain is malleable and easily addicted to certain substances, such nicotine.
No deaths have been attributed to the use of e-cigarettes, according to the FDA, and they have recently been used as a great help for people trying to quit smoking.
(Tobacco kills nearly half of tobacco products users – 7 million people per year worldwide – and 890,000 people each year die from second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke.)
E-cigarettes, then, are not as lethal as cigarettes.
Despite its potentially addictive nature, nicotine in e-cigarettes is still a fraction of what it is in a real cigarette with real tobacco, and still no negative health impacts have been identified by extensive research from the FDA and the World Health Organization (WHO).
So maybe this new alternative to a deadly habit should be more tolerated.
This is not an argument for or against the increasing use of e-cigarette on school property, or just in general, but this is a statement of fact about this new “Dawn of the E-Cigarette.”