Vaping health risks up in the air

Chances are, each and every one of us knows of somebody who smokes cigarettes.

They are the friend with the terrible cough or the aunt that always dismisses herself during a family dinner then returns smelling like a honky-tonk tavern and ruins everyone’s appetite.

We know all too well the nightmarish effects cigarettes have on our bodies, from lung cancer to heart disease, it is no secret that cigarettes are a health nut’s worst enemy.

However, what could the tofu-munching, healthier folks among us have to say about a more socially acceptable and less toxic way for Aunt Ashtray to get her fix?

Since its recent boom in 2013, vaping has become a billion-dollar industry, thriving with over 3,500 shops and 2.5 million consumers in the United States alone.

Vaping is the use of an electronic-powered “cigarette” that simulates the sensation of smoking with or without actual nicotine.

Simply by inhaling or pressing a button on this device, the user begins taking in an aerosol-like substance that contains mainly the flavoring of the users choosing, nicotine if desired, and water vapor.

Consumers often describe these cigarette substitutes as a more convenient and cost effective way to smoke today.

With that being the consensus, it is no surprise that 4.9 percent of college students have adopted the habit of vaping according to the Maryland Source Center for Quitting Use and Initiation of Tabaco.

Those who have admitted to vaping have also stated they have tried conventional cigarettes in the past and have found vaping to be a cheaper and more tolerable substitute.

Darrin Raspberry, an adjunct instructor at DMACC, gave up smoking three years ago to begin vaping.

“I have spent $12,000 in three years on cigarettes, about $4,000 a year,” Raspberry said.

Since vaping, Raspberry said he feels a lot better and has saved quite a bit of money.   

“Now I spend about $700 to $800 a year since I switched to vaping.”

Raspberry, having knowledge and experience with vaping gave some words of advice: “ One should always use caution when smoking or vaping anything, but if you have to smoke, vape.”    

Mike Greene, a speech major at DMACC from Adel, Iowa, says he began vaping because he heard about it from his friends and desired an alternative to smoking cigarettes.

Since Greene switched away from cigarettes to vaping a few months ago, he has felt better.

“I can breathe. I get up in the morning with no problem and I do not cough as much as I use to,” Greene said.

Greene goes through about a tank, 5 milliliters, of e-liquid a day.

“I own a KangerTech PV … it was about $80 and the juice runs $10-$20. It’s a lot cheaper than smoking.”  When asked about DMACC’s tobacco-free policy he was very candid with his answer: “I don’t care, I vape where I want.”

DMACC has officially been a tobacco-free campus since Iowa passed its Smokefree Air Act in 2008. However, DMACC’s nursing department and faculty along with aid from Laurie Wolf, Executive Dean of Student Services, have been doing research of their own since 2007 on the effects of cigarette usage and how to enforce a no smoking policy on campus.

On the Smokefree Air Act, Wolf said, “The first two years were a nightmare. The staff was upset about the inconvenience of not being able to smoke on DMACC property. Work efficiency went up as time passed and there were no longer any complaints from people about walking through clouds of smoke to get into a building.

Visitors would often comment on how beautiful and clean the campus is.”

Wolf was also clear about the series of consequences if someone was caught smoking on campus. 

The first offence results in a lecture and meeting with a judicial officer.

Second offence you take three hours of community service or write and paper.

Third offence results in a $50 fine.

Despite its millions of admirers, there are still some people skeptical of the effects vaping has on your health.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Portland University researches revealed that electronic cigarettes contain levels of formaldehyde equal to that of most glues, plywood, industrial disinfectants, and common household cleaning products. 

The newer PVs (personal vaporizers) that are out on the market today give the consumer the ability to control the temperature of the device.

In order to get a more satisfying hit, veterans of vaping often keep their device at a higher temperature to allow more liquid to be released.

While more juice is being released, so is the formaldehyde.

Researchers found that when a PV was set to 3.3 volts the consumer was inhaling little to no formaldehyde, but when the voltage reached 5, 380 micrograms of formaldehyde were released into the recipient’s lungs.

Despite this research, no solid information has been released on the effects formaldehyde has on your body.

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