When most people think of tobacco products, the first thing that comes to mind is cigarettes, yet in Sampson County, health officials say, a problem is growing through youth that is something that most would never think of as a tobacco substance.
E-cigarettes, also known as E-cigs, have been around since the 1960s; however they have only recently become the new trend among young students. There are hundreds of brands and many different flavors to choose from, leading these to be a new substance of choice since they are so customizable.
The Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians met earlier this week at the Center for Health and Wellness to learn about E-cigarettes and their impact on the local community.
Ernest Watts, the Tobacco Free Living Lead from the Community Transformation Grant Project, made a presentation during the monthly meeting, informing the health minded individuals about the ramifications of the use of E-Cigarettes.
Currently E-cigs are not regulated by the FDA and are easily accessible by minors, he said.
“These are very expensive and people trade them and pass them around,” said Watts. The start-up cost can range from $30 to $100, but that does not include any of the refills or replacing the batteries. The vapor that is produced is a mixture of chemicals including nicotine, and even the E-cigs that are so called “nicotine free” have been found to have traces of nicotine and other addictive substances, he added.
Any thoughts that these E-cigs will help you quit smoking is nothing but smoke and mirrors, Watts continued. “They have not been proven to help people quit (smoking), like patches and other smoking cessation products.”
The E-cigs are also dangerous beyond just the fact that they contain known carcinogens. They have the potential to blow up in the user’s face, much like what happened to a Sneads Ferry man. Watts said that in North Carolina there have been 15 cases of E-cigs exploding since January 2011.
Regulation of the E-cigs in facilities has been difficult, as many places have been labeled as being “smoke free”. Those places do not prohibit E-cigs since they do no produce smoke; the only way to prohibit them is by banning all tobacco products.
“E-cigs have batteries, an incendiary device, and an accellerant,” said Watts. He also stressed that the E-cigs are designed to be marketed to young kids in middle school and high school. Fruity flavors and sweet flavors like cotton candy are made to get them to try them and get hooked. Even though they are “smoke free” they are still tobacco products.
“We have been focusing on multi-family housing, community colleges and four year colleges,” said Watts. He is working with housing management to work on getting communities to become tobacco free locations.
If someone is interested in quitting smoking Watts recommends that they connect up with Quitline NC about getting patches.
“Quitline will pay for the first six week of patches,” Watts explained. “Why pay for an E-cig when that is free?”
For more information about quitting smoking visit www.quitlinenc.com
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.