The Smoking Pen


Large clouds of funny smelling smoke, a handheld device the size of  a pen and a user who will tell you how much healthier it is than cigarettes, welcome to smoking: next generation.

About 10 percent of U.S. adults now vape also known as using e-cigs, according to the online Reuters/Ipsos poll of 5,679 Americans conducted between May 19 and June 4. That’s a bit of a shocker to the feds as it’s almost four times higher than a U.S. government estimate that 2.6 percent of adults used e-cigarettes in 2013.

  The smoking of electronic cigarettes has become as prominent on the Southern Oregon University campus as it is around the rest of the country. A phenomenon that caused somewhat of an uproar among Americans as its popularity grew faster than the government could make laws to regulate it-until now.

Speculation among industry experts is that laws currently being written might force manufacturers to label and test each of their products, creating a more challenging bottom line.  It’s possible not every company will make it. To those who vape, this is very bad news.  Ask anyone who puffs an e-cig on a consistent basis and they will tell you they consider it healthier and more sanitary than traditional cigarettes. However it’s a claim not substantiated.  It’s popularity is still fairly new and long term health effects are unknown.vaping

The term vaping comes from the method of combustion that an E-cig uses to transform a liquid solution (Propylene Glycol and/or Vegetable Glycerin combined with nicotine) into vapor smoke that is inhaled and exhaled in a large cloud.  Vaping differs from traditional cigarettes in that the smoker can take as many or few drags as they desire before pocketing their device, instead of having to commit to one lit cigarette. Some users say this difference encourages fewer puffs and less nicotine in their system.

What started as a “safe” alternative to cigarette smoking has become a subculture in America; as with growing popularity of the habit came the emergence of vape lounges, alcohol pairings, and even online communities for swapping “e-juice”.  It seems that the mechanisms used to vape are becoming a hobby for tinkerers too as there are endless forums about changing out small pieces of the vape devices for different effects.

Southern Oregon Senior Brian Busk has been vaping for over two years now.  At 23 years old, he has switched entirely from smoking cigarettes to vaping.  “I smoked about a pack a day since I was 18,” he says, “now I’m entirely cigarette free.”  As former employee of a vape shop and current computer programer, Busk fully embraced the technical side of vaping as modifying his device presented challenges similar to altering electronics.

There were previously no laws about using devices inside public spaces and the Center for Disease Control says that the flavored nicotine is luring kids to try vaping for the first time. An answer to these complaints came in October when the Food and Drug Administration filed it’s final regulations to the White House Office of Management and Budget to put new laws on the production of vape product.

One of the main suggested laws that has manufacturers frightened is regulation off all products not on the market before February 15th, 2011.  Any products that were registered and marketed before then fall under a “grandfather rule.”  However, since vaping is relatively young, there are hardly any products on the market that were around before the appointed date.  This would mean that most manufactures would have to pay an individual “pre-market tobacco application” for every single product they have for sale.

Politics and manufacturing changes may alter the face of e-cigarettes but Busk puffs on.  He is not alone, the rise of young people using e-cigs continues to rise and many see it as less objectionable that traditional smoking. Others claim it’s easier in the quitting process than patches or gum.  But SOU already treats electronic smoking devices like real cigarettes and restricts anyone on campus from using them inside or in front of doorways.

While the trend continues to grow and the research remains murky about its health effects the government scrambles to regulate. We’re likely to get a clearer picture of the vaping future sometime next year.