Opinion: BHS Should Treat E-Cigs as Tobacco

By Shilpa Rajbahak

The trend of smoking cigarettes is back with a new look. It’s not that regular old cigarette that releases smoke or needs to be lit up anymore. With growing electronics in this era of technology, even cigarettes have caught up. Like most other electronics, the use of e-cigarettes or “e-cig” has grown in the United State.

"The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association estimates about 4 million Americans now use battery powered cigarettes,” ABC News reported. And the number of U.S. middle and high school student e-smokers has doubled between 2011 and 2012.

The cigarettes companies advertise their products effectively, attracting the younger generation with varieties of flavors and colors. “Currently, there are more than 250 brands of "e-cigarettes" available in such flavors as watermelon, pink bubble gum and Java, and in more colors than the iPhone 5C,” according to ABC News.

As a result, BHS has recently applied the tobacco policy to e-cigarettes, effectively making them illegal in school. BHS made the right decision by making this school policy stricter.

Several health issues have been related with the use of e-cigarettes. Health problems can easily impact the education and academic performances of the students in an adverse way. This new policy will aid to decrease health issues of students that can stand as an obstacle in future.

Many cigarette smoking students seem disappointed by this new policy. They argue that e-cigarettes helps them quit smoking. These students view e-cigarette as a better health alternative than using tobacco. But, sadly their belief aren’t factual. Not many researches have been conducted and from the few that has been conducted, don’t prove the safety of the e-cigarettes. Therefore the belief of e-cigarette helping to quit smoking still remains as a theory.

These students blinded by the advertisements and peer pressure, have no idea of the dangerous chemicals used in the product. The Huffington Post reported that “A 2009 FDA analysis of e-cigarettes from two leading brands found that the samples contained carcinogens and other hazardous chemicals, including diethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze.”

Other brands have not gone through a scientific analysis yet. Researchers all around the world have conducted varieties of experiments with e-cigarettes. After similar testing, USA Today pointed out that “the University of Athens in Greece found e-cigarettes caused breathing problems or ‘significant airway resistance’ after 10 minutes of use in eight non-smokers and 11 smokers with normal lung function. They found no immediate lung effect in the 13 smokers tested who have either asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” Since it takes longer period of time for e-cigarette to affect the smokers than non-smokers, it provides more time and opportunity to stop e-cigarettes’ popularity.

Along with chemicals involved in smoking e-cigarettes, the public is unaware of the manufacturing conditions of them. Researchers followed the path of manufacturing of e-cigarette and found that they were manufactured in China under no control conditions. So, how can this product be trusted to do any benefit to humans, especially high school students?

According to Richard Hurt, M.D., director of Mayo Clinic's Nicotine Dependence Center, the story of e-cigarette is not yet complete. Too many factors are unknown to make this invention acceptable for public use. FDA still fights for these e-cigarettes to be banned until proven safe or categorize it as a regular cigarette and apply the same laws.

Even if e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they should still fall under the tobacco policy in BHS. This policy will keep all the students and teachers of the building safe and away from addictive drugs such as nicotine found in all cigarettes. Hopefully, it will also encourage the students to stay away from such injurious and hazardous trends.

What do you think?

Editor's note: BHS student Shilpa Rajbahak wrote this editorial in response to the school's change in policy aimed at electronic cigarettes. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of The Branford Buzz.