More than twice as many college-aged individuals said they use vapes, the electronic smoking devices, in 2016 than 2015. Many users believed vaping was a safer option than cigarettes, but experts still warn of negative consequences.Image By: Brandon Moe
As vaping increases for college students, health risks don’t go up in smoke
Walking around UW-Madison, it may not be as likely as it once was for the metallic scent of cigarettes to waft through the air. Vapes — an electronic, handheld device used to smoke tobacco — and their thinner, multi-scented streams are rising in popularity among college-aged people, including many in Madison.
UW-Madison’s Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention noted that although tobacco companies initially created vaporizing devices to substitute cigarette addiction, the nicotine products have turned the process upside down.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaping is now a recreational activity that has become increasingly more prominent among teenagers and ultimately college students as a way to obtain a brief buzz, similar to the nicotine “high” that cigarettes offer.
“The difference between vapes and cigarettes is that vaporizers have an assortment of flavors,” Dr. Doug Jorenby, the director of clinical services at the CTRI, said. “Taste preference is attractive among college students, which has led to the increase in college-age usage.”
Vaporizers have been found to be a gateway to cigarette smoking. The Burden of Tobacco in Wisconsin Organization found that the rate of college students smoking cigarettes is about 13.1 percent in Wisconsin alone, which is likely to increase due to the popularization of nicotine highs.
The CDC reported that 7.1 percent of college-aged individuals used vapes in 2015 — this number rose to roughly 16 percent in 2016. Additionally, 2016 records show 3.1 percent of the Wisconsin adult population vapes.
Jorenby also said the booming vape trend can be attributed to the fact that they are powered by electric heat, not the fire that lights cigarettes; that heat causes sore throats.