Clearing the air on ‘vape’ addiction among Sand Mountain’s youth

With each drag and release of soulfully scented vapor, teenagers’ minds across Sand Mountain are left in a clouded haze.

They’ve been told vaping is safer than cigarettes – and thanks to social media, they see it’s popularity growing too – but is that really the truth?

E-cigarettes are best described as a device that operates by heating a liquid solution to a high enough temperature so it can create an aerosol (or what many call a “vape”) to be inhaled. According to the Truth Initiative, the liquid solutions are often a mixture of flavoring, humectant and a measurement of nicotine. The e-liquids, or “e-juice,” have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for oral consumption, but haven’t been approved for inhalation, according to the Truth Initiative. However, Gordon Tinsley, owner of The Vape Place, said unlike cigarettes, fire is never used. When ignited, tobacco smokers are exposed to thousands more chemicals than what’s found in an e-cigarette. That’s why he says vaping is a much better alternative than tobacco cigarettes.

“We are very much against youth vaping,” Tinsley said. “But the health benefits of vaping compared to

cigarettes for adults is tremendous. The Royal College of Physicians, in England, came out with a study more than a year ago and said that vaping is 95 percent safer than traditional tobacco. Nicotine – I could show you multiple studies that prove Nicotine is no worse for you than caffeine. The biggest thing with nicotine is that it narrows your arteries and is addictive – I will admit that. But I also believe traditional tobacco has 4,000 chemicals in it, so people could become more addicted to those chemicals more than just the nicotine.”

Tinsley says blame for the majority the confusion among teens starts with arguably the biggest e-cigarette brand in the industry: Juul.

Juul e-cigarettes are readily available in many convenience shops, gas stations and stores – except The Vape Place, Tinsley said. And, while consumers must be 19 or older to purchase vape products in Alabama, he said many local shops sell to underage kids.

The danger with Juul products, Tinsley said, is that Juul “pods,” which house the e-liquids, can contain up to 50 mg of nicotine, which can equal up to more than one pack of cigarettes or 200 cigarette puffs (according to Tinsley sells products with 24 mg at the most. He said Juul has taken a product designed to help smokers quit tobacco cigarettes and twisted it to hook the younger generation. By doing so, Tinsley said Juul has given the entire e-cigarette industry a bad rap.

“CBS recently put out a story that said ‘a major new study provides strongest evidence yet that vaping can help smokers quit cigarettes, with e-cigarettes being nearly twice as effective as gums or patches,’” Tinsley said. “It’s a life-saving device for adults… There are a lot of folks only out here for the money, but we’re not here for that. I can show you my bank account and you’ll see I’m not making a ton of money. I’m out here to change people’s lives by giving them a healthier sensation… These convenience stores and gas stations selling to kids only want your money, but we’re here to try to educate and show how vaping is so much better than tobacco cigarettes.”


Gordon Tinsley


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