Electronic cigarettes have swept the nation in recent years, especially among high school students. From 2013 to 2014, e-cigarette use has increased from 4.5 percent to just over 13.4 percent according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey. The business has grown so much because of the big difference between e-cigarettes and regular tobacco cigarettes.
“There’s no carcinogenics in it,” Williams said. “You still get the nicotine. It’s just the vapor, no smoke involved. A lot healthier. I mean we don’t really know if there’s any side effects to the e-juice. I can’t really see where (the side effect) is. It’s definitely one hundred percent better than cigarette smoke.”
E-juice creates the different flavors that customers can choose from. Because the e-cigarettes have become popular only recently, not much is known about the side effects that result from long-term use. One thing is known for sure, because of the nicotine content, the product is still addictive. Also like cigarettes, customers need to be 18 years old to buy them.
“We go by the same laws as cigarettes, if they look younger than 27, they need to be ID’d,” Mark Williams, Twisted Vapors owner, said. “You look at the ID, I mean it has to be a state issue ID. If it’s not a state issue ID, then we don’t sell to them.”
Although vapor shops may be enjoying the business of high schoolers, the high schools themselves are not too keen on the new smoking habit.
“They’re usually suspended,” Roberta Greaver, teacher and head of the RAZE program at Lincoln High School, said. “I don’t know how many days they get, but they’ve been suspended in the past.”
The RAZE program is a West Virginia group that raises awareness about the dangers of tobacco products. Because there is limited information about e-cigarettes, RAZE has yet to address the product on its website. The main ingredients for e-cigarettes are liquid nicotine, glycerin and Glycol ethers, which are all FDA approved.
E-cigarettes contain no tobacco, but are still illegal to smoke on school grounds. Greaver still wants to raise awareness about e-cigarettes because of their addictive properties.
“It’s still using nicotine, and it’s still causing diseases,” Greaver said. “We don’t want kids to get sick. Anything that has any kind of nicotine is what we want to work against.”