A place for e-cigarettes indoors?

Cody Steman, a third year Automotive apprentice, enjoying a puff from his e-cigarette while on a break between classes at SAIT campus  November 13/14. – Adam F Dullum, The Weal.

Cody Steman, a third year Automotive apprentice, enjoying a puff from his e-cigarette while on a break between classes at SAIT campus November 13/14. – Adam F Dullum, The Weal.

E-cigarettes are appearing all over campus, and it is unclear whether they are a safe alternative to smoking or just another passing fad.

Outside of Heritage Hall one will very likely see groups of people standing together, smoking both traditional cigarettes as well as electronic devices.

E-cigarette manufacturers claim that vaporizing nicotine is a cleaner and safer alternative to traditional combustion methods of smoking, because the user is only inhaling the nicotine and no other added chemicals, though this has not been substantiated, because different products vary.

Taking a “puff” of an e-cigarette activates a heating coil, and then warms liquid nicotine—a mixture made with propylene glycol, which is used in fog machines—in a refillable reservoir, which produces a vapour.

The liquid nicotine can be purchased in a variety of flavours.

Darryl Bell, an electrician apprentice at SAIT, and a smoker for several years, has been smoking e-cigarettes for a few months. To Bell, the choice was simple.

“I smoke less by vaping,” Bell said.

“And cigarettes don’t smell like strawberry cheesecake.”

“I don’t smoke them inside because I don’t want to be kicked out of class.”

Cody Steman, an automotive apprentice in his third year of studies and smoker of 10 years, is using e-cigarettes to help him cut back on smoking regular cigarettes.

“I started using e-cigarettes to help me cut back on smoking, and it [worked], but when I’m home I can just sit there and puff on it whenever,” said Steman.

“Plus the liquid comes in flavours and I love the taste.”

Though Steman uses his e-cigarette inside at home, he’s been told he can’t use it in class.

“I was told by my instructors we had to smoke them outside with the smokers,” said Steman.

“We should be able to smoke them anywhere. It’s just a vapour until some proof comes out that they are bad.”

Katelyn Harris, a staff member at SAIT for the past two and a half years, has also started utilizing e-cigarettes. However, she isn’t using them as a way to quit smoking regular cigarettes.

“I never started smoking until I was 28.”

“My boyfriend smoked e-cigarettes and said I should try it so I did, [and] I’ve been smoking [them] ever since.”

Harris said that she prefers the effect of a normal cigarette but that the e-cigarettes don’t bother her at all.

“They smell really nice. People should be able to smoke them anywhere.”

Each student touched on common points: the appealing smell and taste of the liquid used in e-cigarettes, and the lack of knowledge and information surrounding them.

The sale of flavoured tobacco products is currently a hot topic as well, and very much in the public eye.

On Sept. 30, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Lung Association urged all health ministers across Canada to join Alberta in banning flavoured tobacco products, including menthol.

In late August, the World Health Organization called for e-cigarettes to be banned indoors.

The two incidents are not directly linked, but do present a definite theme.

Every year, more than 3,000 Albertans die from tobacco-related causes and tobacco use is the leading cause of disease, disability, and premature death in the province.

At this point there are no set or defined laws or regulations regarding e-cigarettes.

SAIT Health Services and Alberta Health Services were contacted, but declined to comment on the issue.

The Gateway, operated by the SAIT Students Association (SAITSA), has banned their usage indoors at their venue.

“The reason for banning them comes down to keeping our nonsmoking customers comfortable while inside the bar,” said SAITSA president Jared Stock.

“The health risks are still not clear for e-cigarettes so we are taking a safe approach until actual results are proven.”

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