Vaping and juuling are popular among college students at Seward County Community College and across the nation. Vape pens are used not only for entertainment, but to help cigarette smokers stop smoking. (Monica Gonzalez)
Sitting in his living room, trying to destress from a long day of work and classes, Irvin Gaspar fills a vape tank with juice. He leans back on the couch and inhales some heated strawberry-flavored liquid. He pauses and then exhales a cloud of steam that tastes like watermelon freeze. It swirls around his head and moves slowly up to the ceiling, where it hits and diminishes.
The Seward County Community College freshman was introduced to vaping when he was 15. He is now 19 and says he enjoys it because it helps him destress.
Gaspar is part of a growing trend around the nation for college students. These e-cigarettes, commonly known as “vapes” or “juuls,” are popular among students at SCCC. They gather outside the dorm to vape, at the club or at friends’ homes.
“Vaping takes away stress for a lot of people but when you smoke, it gives you a head rush, kind of like a buzz and you feel more focused,” Gaspar, an HVAC major from Ulysses, says.
Gaspar states that it has helped a lot of the people he knows quit smoking.
Vape pens are on the market to help frequent smokers quit their addiction or help them transition from smoking cigarettes to e-cigs, and then not smoking at all. However, it’s taken on a life of its own. A famous vaper known as Rip Tripper sums up its popularity with this statement, “Smoking is dead. Vaping is the future and the future is now.”
Vaping actually dates back to the fifth century in Egypt when people used to heat herbs and oils on a hot stone to ‘vape’, according to Vaping Daily – The Voice of Vaping. In the 2000s, a Chinese pharmacist made the first e-cigarette. The first ever vape pen to appear in the United States was in 2007. Since then, vaporizers have become a growing trend among students.
Cheyenne Miller was in high school when she first tried to vape. The freshman English major tried it with a group of friends who encouraged her to do it at least once.
“We were just dumb and messing around,” she says, describing her experience with vaping as horrible.
“I had a really bad experience with vaping so I don’t understand why people who have never smoked cigs would try this,” Miller adds.
Gaspar easily answers that question: juice flavors! Teens and some adults are more attracted to e-cigs because of the flavored juice.
“Some of my favorite flavors to try are watermelon freeze but I dislike the ones that are just tobacco flavoring,” Gaspar explains.
Irvin Gaspar, Freshman HVAC major, blows a cloud of vape smoke. Gaspar likes vaping because it helps him release some stress. Blowing smoke in rings or huge puffs is a popular thing to do when chilling with other vapers.
This flavored juice goes inside a tank in the battery-powered device. It heats the liquid to a boiling point which forms an aerosol used by the inhaler. The juice burns out in the steam with each inhalation.
Although vapes are a safer way to smoke, it’s not 100 percent healthy. Nicotine is an option when shopping for juices.
“In my opinion, vaping is a better option than smoking because you’re not inhaling all the nasty and bad chemicals that regular cigarettes have,” Gaspar says.
However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens says that using e-cigarettes to help with smoking habits does not work for long term effects. Unfortunately, nonsmokers can still develop the habit of smoking through vape. According to the Food and Drug Administration, 81 percent of students who’ve used tobacco started with a flavored product.
Vaping does include some side effects which are: dry mouth, dizziness and itching.
“The first time I tried to vape, I was not aware it had nicotine. It actually made me feel really bad and nauseous,” Miller says. “I had a really bad headache and it just didn’t feel good. I would not try it again just because I didn’t enjoy the side effects and it smells terrible in my opinion.”