Do we really need another way to be addicted?
We have internet and we have cellphones. We have alcohol and we have drugs. Lots of drugs. From the legal to the illicit to the things we use as substitutes for drugs when drugs are too hard to find. And we have cigarettes.
So why do we need electronic cigarettes? Are we that desperate to technologize every aspect of our lives? Or is it that we are just as addicted to the novelty of a new way to ingest a substance as the substance itself?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigs or JUUL devices have “the potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.”
So there is a reason for some people to use them. Like nicotine patches or gum, they can be a safer substitute for a dangerous practice, but even then, the CDC notes “scientists still have a lot to learn” about their effectiveness for that purpose.
What they do know is that they aren’t safe for people who haven’t started smoking, like kids. There is no reason for children who haven’t already exposed their lungs to nicotine or other chemicals to do so via a gadget that vaporizes a liquid that can smell and taste like gummy worms or grape bubblegum.
Like wine coolers in soda pop flavors, vaping liquids with candy names and tastes are attractive to a segment of the population that are not allowed to have them by law. That can make it all the more desirable.
So can the challenge of hiding in plain sight. E-cig devices can look like perfectly normal, non-banned items a kid might have in school. A flash drive. A pen. Experts say they can be used in public without being noticed. And the commercially available liquids aren’t the only things they can contain.
“If you think of any kind of harmful substance, if you can liquefy it, you can vape it,” said Laurie Golobish, director of pupil services at Greater Latrobe School District, which is hosting an awareness workshop at 7 p.m. Monday in the Greater Latrobe Senior High School auditorium. Another event is being held with the Indiana County DA on March 27 at Homer-Center High School.
We don’t need another way to become addicted. We need more ways to become informed.