Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Electronic Cigarettes Make a Statement at Samohi


A new smoking trend has arrived, and it has become especially popular with teens and high school students.

Electronic cigarettes, e-cigarettes or “e-cigs” are battery-powered cigarettes that use vapor that can contain nicotine and flavorings to simulate the effect of smoking. Although these may be less harmful than regular cigarettes and have been advertised to help people quit smoking, their use among teens is beginning to gain national attention.

“Altogether, in 2012 more than 1.78 million middle and high school students nationwide had tried e-cigarettes,” the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website said.

Electronic cigarettes, like regular cigarettes, are illegal for people under the age of 18. However, many students and minors still use them, and for some it has even become a habit.

“You can make it entirely your own,” said a Samohi student who asked to remain anonymous due to school regulations regarding e-cigarette use. “You can collect all these different kinds and have all of these different kinds of flavors.”

Vapor bars, which are specialized stores that offer different kinds of “vaporizers,” another name for electronic cigarettes, are popping up in Santa Monica neighborhoods. One, called Vapor Delight, recently opened across from Samohi. It includes displays of vaporizers, a specialized bar and even beverages including espresso and sodas.

“There are a lot of different things you can do to customize [the e-cigs],” Gabriel Sapio, owner of Vapor Delight said. “In my personal experience, it’s definitely helped me to quit smoking cigarettes. I’ve noticed a difference in my breathing and my stamina, so there are a lot of positives in that perspective.”

As a high school junior, I see many teens using e-cigarettes, some during school, some even during class. Last year a student sitting next to me in class pulled out a vaporizer and began using it while the teacher was turned away. He managed to not get caught, but it caught the attention of his classmates. There have been no conclusive studies yet about health benefits since e-cigs are a relatively new item, but both the Samohi student and Sapio, who switched from regular cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, saw positive changes in their health.

“Obviously anything taken in excess is bad for you,” the anonymous student said. “I smoked a pack a day last year and then I got caught smoking at school. Now that I’ve gotten e-cigarettes I haven’t smoked in months.”

One of the highest costs of electronic cigarettes is the literal amount spent on them. Some cost hundreds of dollars, and the batteries and cartridges have to be replaced.

“I’ve spent at least a thousand dollars,” the anonymous student said. “[But] you can do it anywhere. You don’t have to be outside, you don’t smell horrible all the time, you don’t cough all the time. People will be like ‘Oh, what’s that?’ It’s a conversation topic, whereas cigarettes are a conversation killer.”


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