E-Cigarettes spark varied opinions throughout South

Elisa Kim, Features Co-Editor

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The percentage of U.S middle and high school students who use electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also known as the CDC.

According to the CDC’s website (www.cdc.gov), e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that provide doses of nicotine and other additives to the user in an aerosol. Depending on the brand, e-cigarette cartridges typically contain nicotine, a component to produce the aerosol such as propylene glycol or glycerol, and flavorings.

Some South students also have started using electronic cigarettes. Senior Georgi Zhelev says that he started using e-cigarettes because his friends were smoking cigarettes but he didn’t want to smoke. He found e-cigarettes as an alternative for smoking.

“I’m using no nicotine,” Zhelev said. “I don’t smoke cigarettes. I just like the smoke and I like the flavor. It’s also relaxing. You can just relax and you don’t have to think about anything.

According to Zhelev, e-cigarettes, started off as a way for smokers to stop smoking.

“[At first] it started out with nicotine,” Zhelev said. “It was only for people who smoke cigarettes [but] want to stop smoking cigarettes. But then [e-cigarettes were later] made okay for kids who are younger to smoke it.”

According to Zhelev, e-cigarettes were changed two years ago, so that people could have no nicotine in them. He said that e-cigarettes are allowed in restaurants or other public places where cigarettes are prohibited.

“What they developed was zero nicotine flavor [for e-cigarettes],” Zhelev said. “All that is is water vapor. For people who used to smoke, this is a great way because they stop smoking and they still can have the same habit.”

Zhelev  believes that e-cigarettes help smokers quit smoking. He says he knows some people who have stopped smoking after using e-cigs.

“[Some of my friends] who did smoke cigarettes, they all pretty much stopped,” Zhelev said. “It replaced cigarettes.”

Contrary to Zhelev, some other students have different views toward e-cigarettes. One anonymous sophomore says he has tried an e-cigarette once before, but claims he did not find it worthwhile.

“I only used it once because there was just no point in it for me,” he said. “It was an expensive piece of nicotine and flavor which didn’t benefit me. I wasn’t trying to get over cigarettes, so there was simply no real reason why I should keep doing it.”

Agreeing with him, sophomore Clayton Nimz also claimed that he would not encourage people to try e-cigarettes after trying it once himself.

“I’d say ‘don’t bother. Don’t waste your money,’” Nimz said. “The only benefit I’d see [with e-cigarettes] is that if you’re trying to stop smoking cigarettes, then it’s a great tool to do that because it’s less strong and it’s not as bad for you.”

However, Michelle Sheinkopf , health teacher and District co-wellness coordinaor, said how the British Medical Association’s study on the effectiveness of the use of e-cigarettes to quit smoking provided that e-cigarettes may not be as helpful as many think.

“Based on the British medical association, […] it says that there’s no evidence as of this time that this really helps someone to stop smoking,” Scheinkopf said. “So if you’re doing it to help you stop smoking, it’s not doing it for that. So there doesn’t seem to be really any benefits of it.”

Moreover, Scheinkopf said that there are dangers of e-cigarettes that South students may not be aware of.

“The fact that some release nicotine, that in itself is a problem because nicotine is what causes the heart disease portion of smoking cigarettes,” Scheinkopf said. “That’s also the addictive drug in the cigarette. That’s why they’re not safe.”

Scheinkopf further explained that another potential risk with e-cigarettes is that the substances in e-cigarettes are not proven to be any safer than those in tobacco.

“There may not be the same substances that are found in tobacco but there are other substances,” Scheinkopf said. “So you’re trading one for another. Which one is more evil? Right now we know how evil the ones are in tobacco, but we don’t necessarily know how evil these other ones are in the electronic cigarette.”

Regarding the usage of e-cigarettes at South, Dean Ronald Bean touched on the school policy on e-cigarettes, explaining that e-cigarettes fall under the board policy about possession of tobacco. At South, e-cigarettes are considered to be nicotine delivery devices, as noted in the student handbook.

“Our expectation is that students don’t have [e-cigarettes] on campus and obviously not using them on campus,” Bean said. “It’s not okay to be in possession of them, to have them on school property or at school sponsored activities, or to use them on campus or at any school sponsored activities.”

According to Bean, if a student is caught in possession of e-cigarettess and he or she is over 18, a P-ticket, also known as a local ordinance ticket, will be issued. For students under 18, the first and second time would be a six hour Saturday detention or a day in the LAC, or one day of in school suspension. Any time after that, they would start a one day out of school suspension.

“If we had a situation where a student was using [an e-cigarette] in class, our expectation would be that the teacher would at the minimum contact the dean’s office so we could address that issue right away,” Bean said.

In accordance with Scheinkopf, Bean pointed out that e-cigarettes have brought out concerns regarding nicotine and what nicotine can do to the body.

“We’re still concerned about [e-cigarettes] from a health and safety standpoint for the kids at our building,” Bean said.

Scheinkopf urged that for students who think that e-cigarettes can help them stop smoking, they should pursue another way of quitting smoking.

“There’s got to be a healthier way to stop smoking, to either go ‘cold turkey’, deal with it, the nicotine withdrawal, or to slowly diminish the number of cigarettes per week,” Sheinkopf said.  “[Smoking is a] bad habit. Expensive habit. Deadly habit. I don’t see where these e-cigarettes are helping you because you’re trading one habit for another.”



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