E-cigarettes are no longer just an aid to help quit smoking — they have fostered addictions, specifically among youth and teenagers.
On Sept. 25, R.I. Governor Raimondo signed an executive order banning the sale of flavored vaping products. The order does not apply to the sale of electronic cigarettes, such as JUULS and tobacco products.
“It looks like a cereal box,” Raimondo said holding up a strawberry milk flavored JUUL pack. “What adult do you know drinks strawberry milk? Chocolate milk? This is targeted at kids. Our kids. And it’s up to us to stand up, to take action, to protect our children.”
Within this past month, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts and California have taken action against e-cigarettes. On Sept. 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported six total deaths associated with e-cigarette product use.
Junior Seth Florian is one of the people who started vaping early on in life.
“I was first introduced to vaping in the form of vaporizer pens in my early teen years, specifically in high school,” Florian said. “I used the vape just to try it and see what it was about a few times…”
Florian bought his first JUUL at the beginning of his sophomore year in college.
RWU Director of Health Services Anne Mitchell has personally seen health impacts in students from using e-cigarettes.
“I have seen people who vape present with complaints of a cough, chest pain and shortness of breath which are concerning symptoms that require further evaluation,” Mitchell said.
Raimondo does not want to ban the use of e-cigarettes because she wants adults who are using them to quit smoking to have that option available.
Yet, Mitchell states there is no evidence-based research to prove these are a safe way to help smokers quit smoking.
“Most e-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine and other chemicals that when inhaled are harmful to the lungs,” Mitchell said.
“What is alarming is that studies have shown that most people who intended to use e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking ended up continuing to smoke both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes further compounding the nicotine addiction.”
Florian, once addicted to smoking e-cigarettes, threw his JUUL out the window at the end of the 2019 spring semester.
“I was addicted to the nicotine from vaping,” Florian said. “I don’t think I will go back from my experience with nicotine. I appreciated using it, but knew it was hard to stop.”
Health services at RWU offers students’ tobacco cessation services as stated in an all-student email by Assistant Vice President and Dean for Student Life Lisa Landreman.
Mitchell clarified these services include Nicorette gum, the nicotine patch and cognitive behavioral therapy.
“Beware that vaping is toxic, addictive and unsafe,” Mitchell said.
“Although the long term effects of using e-cigarette products is unknown, we currently know that e-cigarette use poses a significant and avoidable health risk to teens and young adults. Make the right choice, stop vaping now.”
Florian said the support of his family and friends helped him quit smoking, on top of thinking about all the money he could have done things differently with.
“It is only going to be a tough process quitting if you want it to be,” Florian said. “You and only you have the power to stop.”