Published: November 6, 2015
Ever wonder why some college students smoke electronic cigarettes?
A new study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, suggests that 91.6 percent of college students use electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, out of curiosity. The study sampled nonsmoking students, current smokers, males and other randomly sampled students over their four-year college careers.
Six major reasons were identified in this study researching why people switched from cigarette smoking to electronic smoking.
“The vast majority (91.6 percent) reported curiosity about the product as a reason for trying them. “I was curious about the product (91.6 percent). My friends use e-cigarettes (70.2 percent). It might be better for my health than smoking cigarettes (69.9 percent). It doesn’t smell bad (50 percent). I can use it in places where cigarette smoking is not allowed (50 percent). I use it to cut down on smoking (30.8 percent). I use it to help me quit smoking (20.2 percent).”
Psychology professor Timothy Cannon, Ph.D., explained that curiosity is needed for any product in order for it to be successful.
“Without curiosity, you wouldn’t think many people would try it,” Cannon said.
The study also suggested that college students are more ahead of the mainstream than other age groups.
“College students are often early adopters of novel products and have historically been at the forefront of societal changes in substance use that later materialize in the general population,” according to the study.
While curiosity is stated as the number one reason, Zachary Coyle, a sophomore at The University, cited another reason why he made the switch from cigarette smoking to vaping with electronic cigarettes.
“I smoked cigarettes freshmen and sophomore year of high school. I stopped and started vaping late junior year. Then I came here to college … Ian, (who is) now my roommate, was quitting smoking moving into college. So I stuck with it with him, to encourage him … And I’ve actually moved off nicotine level. So I don’t use nicotine anymore, but he’s still working on it. But I told him I’d do it with him … It also was more for my parents’ sake, and my own sake. Rather than the social scene or something,” Coyle said.
While this study does not identify if vaping helps cigarette smokers with lower their nicotine intake, Coyle does cite two other identified reasons in the study.
“The second most endorsed reason was friends used them (70.2 percent), followed by beliefs of relative safety compared with cigarettes (69.9 percent),” the study stated. These are the two reasons that follow Coyle’s path of switching from smoking to vaping.
None of the evidence used for the survey mentioned if electronic cigarette smoking is beneficial to overall health. Cannon explained both the benefits and the negative effects when discussing the topic.
“The government does not regulate industry in any way, what you get in your vape oil is not well regulated. You have huge drums of nicotine. How much of those end up in the oil? Is that clear? What about the additives and flavorings? There’s a study about formaldehydes in the vape, the vapor, and the study indicated there is a high amount,” Cannon said.
Most doctors and educators believe that there are fewer negative effects from smoking a tobacco cigarette.
“But still, it is still better then sucking in a cigarette,” Cannon said.
Doctors and health professionals agree that more research is needed to explain the effects of vaping an electronic cigarette on a body.
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