American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout aims to assist smokers in ceasing habitual smoking. Despite the movement’s inception in 1977, quitting smoking remains an arduous task, and some point to technological advancements that have occurred throughout the last few decades for this notion.
Traditional cigarettes are mainly prevalent among adults ages 45-64 — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 17 of every 100 adults in that age range smoke. E-cigarette smokers demographic differs, with middle and high schoolers are the key demo for e-cigarette consumption.
E-cigarettes, commercially dubbed “vapes,” are electronic battery-powered vaporizers that disperse aerosol. The aerosol is liquid droplets that replicate tobacco smoke, and aerosol can either be natural or anthropogenic. Examples of natural aerosol include fog and dust, while anthropogenic aerosols consist of haze, particulate air pollutants and smoke.
The common perception among teenage e-cigarette smokers is that vapes are markedly less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Smokefree SC contends that aerosol contains toxic compounds and cancer-causing chemicals that can damage one’s lungs. Vitamin-E acetate is the main chemical in e-liquid that’s contributing to injured lungs, according to Cornerstone Prevention Specialist Allen Easler. He explains if heated up, Vitamin-E acetate is fine, but as it cools off it hurts the lungs.
“About two-thirds of (vaping) cases include vitamin acetate,” Easler said.
He said the chemical acetone — a chemical used in fingernail polish remover — increases respiratory issues as well, citing that it’s added in to absorb nicotine much more easily.
Nicotine acts as the essential chemical in vapes and traditional cigarettes, because of its addictiveness. Easler compares nicotine’s addictiveness to heroin and he describes how it can act as a stimulant and therefore increase heart rate and blood pressure.
“Your brain likes nicotine,” Easler said. “Your body likes it in general.”
Easler does confess that vapes are safer than cigarettes, but they share a lot of the same chemicals so there’s not really much of a difference between the two. He also said vaping companies purposely advertise toward the youth, to condone and promote underage smoking.
Billy O’Sullivan, manager of Vapetopia’s Greenwood locations, isn’t defending underage smoking, the addictiveness of nicotine or the influence tobacco brands such as Juul have on youths, but he does take issue with the recent vaping ban headed by FDA and CDC. He attributes the ban to the 35% average drop in business of vape shops around the country, the misconception of vaping and the 150,000 jobs in the 14,000 vape shops in the U.S. being put in jeopardy.
“This isn’t a vape industry issue, this is an American issue, and this is our right to choose. We had the right to choose to smoke cigarettes, which’s proven to kill for decades now, (and) you’re going to take our right to vape but keep our right to kill ourselves with cigarettes, it don’t make no sense,” O’Sullivan said.
O’Sullivan agrees nicotine has addictive properties, but not to the extent that Easler does.
Vaping and cigarettes should not even be in the same realm. Once you separate nicotine from combustion and the chemicals in a cigarette, it’s barely worse for you than caffeine,” O’Sullivan said.
He also points of the medical benefits nicotine has had as a cognitive enhancer, stating the chemicals positive effect on Alzheimer’s patients.
“Nicotine by itself away from the poison big tobaccos pushing is really not that harmful,” O’Sullivan said. As a class, I would even go as far to say that we’re not a tobacco product because there’s nicotine on potatoes, there’s nicotine on tomatoes there’s nicotine on eggplant which a lot of these salt nicotine’s that’s where it’s coming from. We get our nicotine from other places, so why are we a tobacco product?”
Flavoring, USP grade Nicotine, Vegetable Glycerin and Propylene Glycol are the ingredients he includes when creating e-liquid.
“We don’t add poison, we don’t combust, we don’t light it, we don’t give people cancer and we don’t have chemicals,” O’Sullivan said.
Youth vaping, in his opinion, is a parental issue, rather than a government or vape shop problem. His suggestion to combat youth vaping is to remove vapes from convenience stores and cap the nicotine in vapes.
“It was illegal for me to walk down the gas station when I was 12 and buy cigarettes, and it’s illegal for kids to vape. Where are the parents? This isn’t the government’s job, this is a parenting job. We don’t do this for kids, we do this to save adults so they can have more time with their kids,” O’Sullivan said.
The vaping ban continues to spread and more and more states are passing it, New York looks to be the next state to do so.
“The hardest part about this is seeing people stop vaping and going back to smoking. Smoking’s literally proven to kill 480,000 people a year (and) 1,300 people a day in this country. Vaping has never made anybody sick, it’s never killed anybody, all it’s done is help people get their lives back, and it’s wrong what they’re doing. You’re literally putting money before the welfare of your people and we’re fighting man. I’ll never stop, this is a cause worth fighting for,” O’Sullivan said.