More people are using electronic cigarettes in Utah, but the rate of traditional cigarette smoking has remained unchanged.
Here at Salt Lake Vapors, Adam Christensen talks to e-cigarette users every day. Christensen says he stopped smoking two years ago with the help of these devices, which heat up liquid nicotine into vapor to be inhaled.
“I mean, we’ll help people with their new setups and they’ll come back and they’ll say they’re cigarette free for however long it’s been since they came in and got their initial setup,” Christensen says. “And they said, this is a saving grace, and that’s what makes my job fun is seeing people kick the nasty habit.”
The Utah Department of Health is actively campaigning against e-cigarettes. New data from the department shows adult use of e-cigarettes has more than doubled in the last year, and sixty percent of those people say they continue to smoke traditional cigarettes. Adam Bramwell oversees the department’s anti-smoking campaign.
“For all we know, this could be something that causes lung cancer,” Bramwell says. “Or it could be completely benign. At this point we just don’t know. So that’s the rock and the hard place that public health is in right now.”
But Bramwell says the department’s chief concern is data that reveals about six percent of kids in 8th, 10th and 12th grades are using e-cigarettes regularly, which is more than they’re using cigarettes.
“Youth today see these products and they see the marketing everywhere and they come in many different flavors and start these things thinking ‘oh this is something I can just, you know, try,’ but nicotine isn’t something you can just flirt with,” Bramwell says. “Nicotine is an extremely addictive chemical.”
Bramwell notes, although e-cigarettes contain no actual tobacco leaf, the nicotine in e-cigarettes is derived from it.
The Youth data comes from a survey the state gives to high school students every two years. The adult data comes from an annual state-wide telephone survey.