The e-cigarette craze has taken over college campuses across the country. In 2016, the CDC reported that 16 percent of college-aged individuals use vapes. The problem has spread to NYU where vaping has become a popular trend with students favoring Juuls, a small, light version of an e-cigarette. On Jan. 11, NYU released a news article presenting research from NYU’s College of Global Public Health. The news release concluded that e-cigarettes are a safer option to cigarettes, but while smokers who switch to e-cigarettes can see considerable benefits, switching to e cigarettes is not as healthy as totally quitting. The researcher’s decision to not warn e-cigarette users of the health issues that result from vaping was careless, and they must address the vaping issue on campus by comprehensively considering research about vaping and taking a clear stance on the issue.
In a news release, NYU voiced support of e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking. Sending this message may not be directly encouraging the use of e-cigarettes for those who do not smoke, but it makes e-cigarettes appealing to smokers. The news release emphasizes the low-risk nature of e-cigarettes, stating that nicotine is not responsible for many of the diseases associated with smoking. However, this is extremely misleading. For one, a recent study by Dr. Moon-Shong Tang shows that this may be false. Her study suggests that nicotine, which is the main ingredient of e-cigarettes like the Juul, could cause an increased risk of cancer and heart disease due to DNA damage and its inhibition of the lungs, bladder and heart’s abilities to repair themselves. Additionally, by glossing over the fact that nicotine is bad for you and painting e-cigarettes in such a positive way, this study diminishes the risks e-cigarettes pose which could cause even non-smokers to consider using them. NYU should take more of a direct stance on the topic by ensuring that vaping is not done on campus. Stating that e-cigarettes are better than smoking is not enough.
Some measures have to be established to combat the over-use of e-cigarettes on campus. New York state law made it illegal to vape in an indoor public area as of Oct. 23, 2017. While smoking e-cigarettes indoors was already explicitly prohibited in NYU buildings, the law didn’t stunt any students’ indoor smoking habits, and it is safe to assume the same will continue to happen with the new statewide law. NYU does have resources to combat addiction, including 12-step programs selected by students themselves. However, none of these programs directly reference e-cigarette use. There are programs for many drug problems and several specifically for alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine, but nothing specifically for e-cigarettes. NYU should rectify this considering how widespread of a problem it has become both across campus and nationwide.
NYU must address the vaping issue among its student body. Help for e-cigarette addiction and a heavier enforcement of not smoking in NYU buildings would be a start toward mitigating the damage that e-cigarettes cause. NYU should stay up to date with the research of its professors which point to the health risks associated with vaping and take appropriate measures to address the e-cigarette problem on campus.
Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected].