Wednesday, February 19, 2014

CVS to Ban Cigarettes, But E-Cigarettes May Prevent Maryland Students from Kicking the Habit

CVS, the closest pharmacy/convenience store to the University of Maryland, will stop its sale of cigarettes as early as October 2014, The New York Times reports.   CVS' goal is to help with smoking cessation and to curb public health issues in the long run, even if it means taking a $2 billion dollar decrease in sales as a result.  However, Pam Barreto, a worker and researcher at the Substance Abuse Center at the University of Maryland fears that  electronic cigarettes may gain more popularity in the process.

Trendy e-cigarettes are gaining popularity with teens and young adults

Instead of buying multiple packs of cigarettes over a short time span, many young adults are opting for electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes. "They're easy to purchase online, you can get them at the mall," says Barreto.

E-cigarettes are portable and battery operated, contain no tobacco, may or may not contain nicotine and come in a variety of flavors.

According to an article published by the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund, the percentage of high school students who smoke using the e-cigarettes had more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, from 4.7 to to 10 percent respectively.

The New York Times also reported that 1 out of 5 middle school children had tried e-cigarettes without ever having smoked a regular cigarette.
One of the major reasons for this trend is based on the preconception and advertisement that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative.

Lack of research and regulation for the safety of e-cigarettes, and its close proximity to the UMD campus

Despite there being no tobacco in e-cigarettes, other chemicals present could cause cancer in the future.  However, e-cigarettes have only been on the shelves since 2007, and cancer research on a product can only be conducted after it has been on the market for 15-20 years, Cancer Treatment and Prevention states.

"There isn't too much data right now on the harmfulness of these cigarettes," Baretto explains.
Due to the lack of information on the tabacco-less smoking alternative, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to authorize any forms of regulating its sale or its allotted chemical components, according to the FDA website.

Baretto states that with other local stores on Route 1 such as 7-Eleven selling the e-cigarettes, students are getting even more of a reason to purchase them. But former smoker Eli Zimmerman says that the price of e-cigarettes may be out of the average college student's budget.

High cost of e-cigarettes still deters some on campus smokers

Zimmerman, a sophomore journalism major, quit smoking to become more athletically competitive in intramural sports.  As a former smoker, Zimmerman tried E-cigarettes but the prices made them less appealing. "I remember when I was smoking, I had the option to get E-cigarettes," Zimmerman said, "but it usually would cost less to just get a pack."

Currently, the price of an e-cigarette starter kit could cost as much as $90 dollars, and up to $12 dollars for flavor refill packs.  According to the Daily Finance, a smoker could spend $1,500 to $3,300 over a year on traditional cigarettes, but for Zimmerman, the upfront purchase of an e-cigarette starter kit was too steep.

While knowledge of other pharmacy's plan to ban cigarette sales are unknown, CVS'  is looking to further its goals to end smoking by launching a smoking cessation program this spring, CNN reports.


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