COMMENTARY: E-cigarettes may not be as safe as you think
As you’re driving down Howe Avenue, you catch a glimpse of a teenager holding a device that may grab your attention.
This device appears to be a cigarette, but you notice there is no smoke being dispensed into the air. You contemplate for a minute but realize this new implement in their hand is part of a trend in society called an e-cigarette.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat liquid to deliver nicotine in a vapor rather than in the form of tobacco smoke.
In these vapors are a few chemical solutions made from glycol, glycerol, nicotine, and variations of flavored chemicals to generate a tasteful and appealing sensation for all ages. E-cigarette companies have manufactured savory flavors such as chocolate, cotton candy, peppermint and gummy bear to grab customers’ attention.
These flavors have been directed to attract younger people as well as the general public because of the misconception of e-cigarettes being untainted compared to traditional cigarettes.
Many individuals however, may not understand their harmful effects. The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has published studies indicating that at high temperature settings, these vapors release more formaldehyde — a cancer-causing chemical — than the common cigarette.
The release of formaldehyde from e-cigarettes could be 15 times higher than from smoking traditional cigarettes. The chemical formaldehyde also is found in building materials and embalming fluids.
According to cancer.net, no warning labels are advertised on e-cigarette packages and they can be distributed to people of any age.
The NEJM has noticed that Boston has taken action, as we should, to ban e-cigarettes in the common workplace. New York and Los Angeles have also banned e-cigarettes in certain locations. This will help create safer communities.
Although a total ban on e-cigarettes is highly unlikely, a better solution is for people not to use the vaporizers on a high-voltage setting, which can decrease the amount of formaldehyde being released into the body.
E-cigarettes have been promoted as an alternative to smoking. The number of e-cigarette stores has grown considerably over the past few years, including in Shelton, and these stores have profited from the distribution of the chemical-delivering devices.
But findings from studies, such as those reported by the NEJM, should challenge towns to ban e-cigarettes in all common places where traditional cigarettes are banned.
This would keep our society a cleaner and healthier place to live in, as well as diminish e-cigarette use by younger individuals.
Cassandra Wresilo is a Shelton resident and a freshman at Southern Connecticut State University.