Column: Nicotine, harmful in any form

Photo illustration by Jennifer Tharp, The Campus Ledger.

Joseph Adams

News editor

“Smoking is a horrible habit.”

It is something that has been drilled into our heads for years. Yet, the day I turned 18 I went and bought a pack just because I could. Eight years later, I am still a serial quitter and struggle with this ‘habit’ regularly.

Many of my bad habits started with working in the service industry. Smoking is all too common within the industry because it provides a break from the madness and breakneck pace of restaurants, and those habits only get reinforced by friends and co-workers.

That’s my personal story with smoking. I am working on quitting, and I am sure I will get there eventually.

For students, however, nicotine is appetizing. It is a stimulant that can relieve stress and improve concentration. The “cigarette generation” seems to be ending, but nicotine is still profitable in the form of vapes or e-cigarettes. It is a more palatable form of nicotine, better for you than cigarettes but with long-term effects still largely unknown.

The New York Times reported on a study in England that found that vaping helps people quit smoking, a definite positive. I myself used to vape to control cravings when I quit smoking in the past.

Vaping is not a perfect substitute, but it helps with the worst part of quitting, the first three days or so. After that, it begins to get less difficult and vapes are great to help deal with cravings.

Vape companies, however, are in the cross-hairs of controversy right now because the former head of the FDA accused vape companies of marketing to those under the legal smoking age. Vapes with flavors, as well as targeted advertising, reach out to youth and are enticing to young people. Vape companies want young people to become addicted to nicotine so they can gain lifelong customers.

If vape companies mainly focused on smoking cessation instead of marketing to young people, their motives would be less objectionable. The pursuit of profits usually takes away any desire to be ethical and protect consumers, and is partly the reason why the current presidential administration views youth vaping as an epidemic.

The main dangers with vaping are that it can lead to other nicotine habits like tobacco; the health effects are also largely unknown, and it is still highly addictive. There are nicotine-free vapes which seem fine, but it is still a risky behavior to inhale any substance into your lungs.

Nicotine is dangerous on its own without tobacco. It doesn’t need to be in a cigarette to be harmful, and that is why people should take issue with vaping along with smoking. Cigarettes are proven to be more dangerous and have a litany of carcinogenic ingredients that kill people on a regular basis, along with the many lung, throat and heart problems that are caused by tobacco use, yet nicotine is still one of the most highly addictive and dangerous drugs in any form.

In the United States, 1 out of every 5 deaths are caused from complications related to smoking. That is a staggering and frightening amount. Vaping, while healthier, still carries unknown risks; people only figured out the link between lung cancer and smoking in the ’50s, so there is potential that the health risks of vaping will be uncovered in the future.

Aside from being horrible for you, cigarette butts are the most littered item on Earth. I can admit to having been bad about this in the past. Cigarette butts are considered a toxic waste item and can cause irreparable damage to the planet.

Not only is the smoking epidemic destroying the Earth, but it is destroying the poor and the mentally ill. Those of lower economic standing in the United States are among the largest groups of smokers, according to the CDC. Tobacco companies are aware that the highly educated are less likely to smoke, so they target low income, working class people. According to a John Oliver segment, tobacco companies are pushing their money and ads to countries that have less restrictions on smoking to make profits. They are peddlers of death and use their wealth and influence to destroy human lives.

Cigarettes have taken a lot from me, mainly my money, health and valuable time. Having an addiction like this controls you is horrible; I have told myself ‘I am going to quit’ and then driven to the gas station to buy cigarettes before I know that’s what I’m doing. Nicotine takes away your self-control. It makes your work days longer and it makes you literally stink. 

Coming from a smoker struggling with addiction, I’d recommend avoiding any and all nicotine products. It’s simply not worth the time, money and damage to your health.



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