BY JAMES HITCHCOCK
Vaping and electronic cigarette use has become a significant health concern here at Sacred Heart University and on other college campuses across the country.
Sacred Heart received a $10,000 grant from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and Southern Connecticut State University to study the use of vapes and e-cigarettes on campus.
Professors, organizers and even students are now supporting disciplinary actions for those who continue to violate the smoke-free campus policy. “Vaping among college youth is a significant public health concern”, said director of SHU’s Master of Public Health Program, Anna Greer.
The study incorporates a 29-question research survey directed towards undergraduate students, asking questions such as where vaping takes place on campus and students attitudes towards vaping.
The University has also implemented an informative campaign to help notify students about the major health risks of vaping and e-cigarettes, as well as pushing to prevent the use of such things on campus.
Looking to ensure a clean environment, Sacred Heart recently created a policy that prohibits smoking on campus unless in designated smoking areas. “Nothing is more offensive than the smell of smoke, whether it’s from a vape or cigarette. As a student walking through the halls, I should not have to feel unsafe and concerned for my health when considering second hand smoke risks,” said senior, Olivia Pinto.
Since 2012, the University has offered smoking cessation programs for both students and faculty. More than 6,500 students in the state of Connecticut were able to benefit from the program.
According to Sacred Heart Raising Awareness of Vaping Health Risks, the youths demand for electronic cigarettes has exceeded cigarette smoking, especially in college students. A nationwide study from the National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine indicated that addiction from vaping can influence future cigarette use in young adults.
“Adolescent and early adult years are times of important brain development which continues until about age 25”, said Medical Director of Student Health Services, Betsy Clachko. The Department of Public Health wants their $10,000 grant to go beyond just Sacred Heart.
The objective of the Tobacco Control Program, according to its website, ct.gov/dph, is to “enhance the well-being of Connecticut residents by promoting tobacco free lifestyles and by educating communities about the economic health costs and consequences of tobacco use.”
Some statistics include, over 7,000 chemicals are in tobacco smoke. Hundreds of these chemicals are toxic and about 70 percent of them are known to cause cancer in humans and animals. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US, and smoking is the number one cause of heart disease.
“A recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine exposed the hazards of so-called “pod mods” like Juul. These devices deliver a concentration of nicotine up to ten times the amount found in other e-cigarette types,” said Betsy Clachko, medical director of Sacred Heart’s Hamilton Wellness Center.
“I would caution anyone who is using or considering using any vaping device, especially pod mods, of the deleterious health effects caused by these products,” said Clachko
Many electronic cigarettes containing nicotine have other addictive substances that negatively affect the rate at which a young adults brain develops. According to Scott Gilbert, a writer for the Penn State News, side effects may include increased heart rate, increase in blood pressure, lung disease, chronic bronchitis, and an insulin resistance that can lead to type II diabetes.
“Exposure to nicotine and other additives in e-cigarettes harm the developing brain and leads to addiction which can then cause mood and attention problems, not to mention the respiratory issues due to inhalation of the other chemical additives in the device,” said Clachko.