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Should designated smoking areas apply to e-cigs?

Illustration: Madalyn Drewno – The Sentry

Vape be gone

Opinion by Haley Frank

E-cigarettes have often been labeled as healthier than traditional cigarettes, but studies have shown that they may not be the healthy alternative the public perceives them as. People should still have the right to choose whether or not to smoke an e-cigarette like any other cigarette user. However, those who engage in vaping should not forcibly subject their fellow citizens to breathe in the secondhand smoke they are producing due to potential health risks and simple common courtesy.

Although Colorado does not enforce designated smoking areas for e-cigarettes, CU Denver should. By 2018, the FDA necessitated all e-cigarettes to be sold with this label: “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.” This means e-cigarettes are synonymous with traditional cigarettes and should be given the same rules.

Nicotine is only the beginning of the long list of the harmful chemicals that e-cigarettes contain. To researchers’ knowledge, e-cigarettes release formaldehyde and benzene in their vapor. It turns out the gentle-sounding word “vapor” is not completely innocent. Although these chemicals have been found to be less toxic than smoke produced by traditional cigarettes, human lungs are still not meant to be breathing them.

Besides all of this scientific lingo, simple common courtesy is being violated when people exhale the potent cloud of vapor into a complete stranger’s path for them to involuntarily inhale while strolling in a public area. By all means, people should be able to smoke an e-cigarette as they choose, but at the same time, they should respect the decisions of people who choose not to.

For all intents and purposes, e-cigarettes are the same as traditional cigarettes, and should therefore be treated as such. Cigarette users are expected to be in designated smoking areas. Those who smoke e-cigarettes should be held to the same expectation.

Vape away

Opinion by Padideh Aghanoury

E-cigarettes are a far less harmful way to consume nicotine, and e-cig users should not be forced to vape in designated areas. Before e-cigs became more popular and accessible, the only ways to consume nicotine were smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco— which is also known as dipping. Individuals smoke tobacco by buying cigarettes, rolling their own, or loading the tobacco into pipes. Some people take a wad of snuff—a sticky, tarry lump of tobacco—and place it between their lip and gums, only to then spit it out in a disgusting drool of brown saliva. Basically, before e-cigs hit the market, smoking was a pretty gross habit that was hard to go unnoticed.

However, the impact e-cigarettes have on both users and non-users alike pales in comparison to traditional methods. E-cigs emit vapor as a by-product, as opposed to smoke. According to a study published by the University of Auckland in 2014, the vapor exhaled by an e-cig user has little to no adverse effect on bystanders. In another study, Public Health England has concluded that “international peer-reviewed evidence indicates that the risk to the health of bystanders from secondhand e-cigarette vapor is extremely low and insufficient to justify prohibiting e-cigarettes.” There is no measurable impact of e-cig vapor on surrounding individuals, so creating designated vape areas is unnecessary. And with e-cigs, people don’t have to avoid stepping on crushed cigarette butts or crusted dip spit.

The juice used in e-cigs does indeed contain chemicals other than nicotine. However, these chemicals are relatively harmless, especially compared to the carcinogens in cigarettes. Thousands are affected annually by the second-hand smoke that comes from cigarettes, but no research supports that e-cigarette vapor has the same harmful effects. So creating separate areas for vaping does nothing beneficial, it just creates inconveniences those who are consuming nicotine in the least harmful way.

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