Lack of E-cigarette policy leads to split decision


photo by Maribeth Eiken

Manal Salim

photo by Maribeth Eiken
photo by Maribeth Eiken
Negative health implications of Electronic Cigarettes necessitates school-wide ban
The Electronic Cigarette is invading America. With millions of users and a booming yet only beginning to bloom industry worth $1 billion in sales this year, E-Cigs are poised to become the “next big thing.”
Battery-powered cigarette imitators, E-Cigs allow consumers to take drags of a vaporized propylene glycol/nicotine mixture, even lighting up at the end and releasing puffs of white smoke for that “cool,” realistic effect. Part of their success lies in the popular opinion that E-Cigs, supposedly lacking tobacco and many harmful carcinogens, are far less toxic to bodily health than regular and publicly denounced cigarettes. With alluring names like Green Smoke, NJOY and bluCigs, the E-Cig industry tries to push these popular conceptions, along with ones that E-Cigs are eco-friendly and can even be used in public venues like schools.
Though this popular opinion may have swept this nation’s smokers off their feet, resulting in an exponential growth in E-Cig use, the claim has no basis in fact. Though the product isn’t Food and Drug Administration approved, the organization conducted several studies. In one sample of a leading E-Cig brand, the F.D.A. “detected diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze that is toxic to humans, and in several other samples, the FDA analyses detected carcinogens.”
Official reports cite concerns that E-Cigs may also provide “other potentially harmful volatile components.” Because E-Cigs haven’t been submitted to the FDA for approval, the depth of studies they can conduct and subsequent knowledge available about nicotine and chemical levels in E-Cig are severely limited.
Furthermore, though E-Cigs don’t contain tobacco; they do still contain the highly addictive and harmful drug, nicotine, sometimes even in higher levels than regular cigarettes. Worse, numerous alarming studies conducted by institutions like the World Health Organization and University of California – San Fransisco have found the use of E-Cigs has no proven ability to reduce dependency on smoking; rather, their use can be conducive to nicotine addiction.
Our nation has dedicated immeasurable time and effort in the endeavor to curb the destructive practice of smoking. We have not come this far — reducing the percentage of cigarette-smoking adults to 18 percent in 2012 from more than 40 percent in the ‘60s — to lose all progress to E-cigarettes as they become just as popular as cigarettes were in their prime. The one seemingly invaluable benefit of E-Cigarettes, their lack of tobacco, is nothing but a thin facade to fool consumers into buying into the corrosive industry — one equally awful, if not worse, than the industry of regular cigarettes.
Though the lack of federal condemnation of E-Cigarettes is disappointing, the outrage lies in the fact that most public venues have no rules or bans whatsoever against E-Cigarettes, simply allowing them on their premises. This becomes especially alarming when looking at public schools. Many places sell E-Cigarettes to minors in across the country, and they are even deliberately geared toward younger people with fun, added flavors like strawberry and cookies and cream. Sure, maybe E-Cigs aren’t as disruptive as regular cigarettes, which release the threat of secondhand smoking with each puff, but that certainly isn’t the only reason cigarettes have been banned in schools.
Cigarettes were also banned with genuine concern for the protection of our children and their developing brains and bodies, and E-Cigarettes are no different. Yet, the policy is different. RBHS currently has no policy on E-Cigarettes, which is as good as allowing them and subsequently allowing our students to harm themselves on school property.
Our school must help lead the way. We, as a student body at RBHS, must join or perhaps help to catalyze the movement against the absurdly deceptive E-Cigarettes. Our methods should attempt to reach the conclusion of banning E-Cigarettes from school grounds. Either that, or we help the blackened E-Cigarette industry blossom, letting a revived epidemic of ashen lungs and yellowed teeth drag our nation and our school into regression.
By Urmila Kutikkad
Creation of E-Cig policy  unnecessary for RBHS
In recent years, an estimated 1.78 million high school children experimented with Electronic Cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Though this may seem to be a whopping number initially, it is important to note that nearly 4,000 people younger than 18 years of age begin smoking traditional cigarettes each day.
Even though E-Cigarettes increase in popularity, schools, including Hickman High School, have banned these devices. Currently, RBHS doesn’t have a policy regarding E-Cigarettes, and according to principal Dr. Jennifer Mast the device is regarded as a substance that may cause harm. Lacking the need for a response to E-Cigarettes up to this point proves that a new policy does not require implementation at RBHS.
Even without a set of rules in place, E-Cigarettes have not been a problem at RBHS. No teachers have heard complaints about the use of this mimic cigarette, and students do not use them inside the school. If they are used at all, cigarettes are perhaps used off school grounds, in the same general location as traditional cigarettes. The fact that RBHS hasn’t encountered any issues regarding E-Cigarettes further shows that the topic lacks a restrictive policy, as students themselves have been able to uphold the mantra of freedom with responsibility in terms of substance use.
And with ambiguous research about the effects of E-Cigarettes, the lack of a concrete policy seems fit. According to the Mayo Clinic, little is definitely known about the negative health effects of Electronic Cigarettes.
What is known is that the E-Cigarette may look like a cigarette and deliver a dose of nicotine, but the similarity ends there. Though they differ in shape and size, E-Cigarettes basically all function in the same way and trigger vaporized nicotine instead of tobacco smoke. An FDA study, according to, found that E-Cigarettes may release carcinogens, but are safer than cigarettes because they don’t release poisons found in cigarette smoke.
Without studies to provide the public with a complete knowledge of the pros and cons of the product, a definite decision cannot be reached. Not knowing the complete story behind Electronic Cigarettes makes it incorrect to blanketly assume they should be treated under the same ban as cigarettes.
The strict ban the HHS administration chose to implement against E-Cigarettes shouldn’t influence the decision of the RBHS administration on the topic. There is no need for a policy to ban the use of E-cigarettes here. In addition, a new policy would generate unnecessary restrictions that would punish students who have been able to use E-Cigarettes appropriately without any rules at all.
By Manal Salim