THE SMELL of burning tobacco still wafts in Antonio near the corner of Dapitan Street, but this time it is combined with an aromatic scent.

While cigarettes continue to be the choice for most students who smoke, some of them have switched to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), more commonly known as vapes.

“You will notice the difference when you switch from cigarettes to vapes,” Lia Herrera, an Advertising Arts major from the College of Fine Arts and Design told the Varsitarian.

“When I smoke cigarettes nowadays, all I get are chapped lips. That’s also a reason why I stopped smoking. Plus, it’s easier for me to breathe.”

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a vape typically has three main components, the e-liquid, a heating element, and a power source. The e-liquid or “juice” is the mixture used in a vape and it contains nicotine, the psychoactive compound also found in tobacco.

Nicotine is mixed with propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, which when vaporized gives the e-liquid its distinct cloudlike appearance. Flavorings are then added to provide varying scents and tastes.

The atomizer holds and vaporizes the e-liquid. Inside the atomizer is a heating element made out of high-resistance wire formed into a coil.

Between the coil is a wick, typically cotton, which is soaked in e-liquid. When the coil is heated using electricity, the wick is also heated, vaporizing the liquid.

To provide power to heat the coil, a battery is connected to the atomizer. These batteries are housed in “mods”, a term coined from early e-cigarettes made out of modified high-power flashlights. Some mods can be as simple as connecting the battery directly to the atomizer, while some have complex circuitry to deliver variable voltage, wattage, or more recently, variable temperature controls.

Compared to tobacco-based products, vapes might not cause as much side effects to the body.

“I am an avid basketball player. When I started smoking cigarettes, I noticed that I get exhausted easily, so I weaned off it. But then I switched to vapes, and that’s when I started to last longer on the court,” Paul, a Grade 11 student, said.

However, vapes are not an end to the smoking problem.

As e-liquids also contain nicotine, it can also cause dependence and addiction. In a Varsitarian report last 2015, Dr. Maria Ronilla Santos of the UST Hospital said that while nicotine “causes pleasure, increased awareness, increased wakefulness and increased cognitive activity, more will be needed to satisfy the craving.”

In a statement last August, the Department of Health said there was a “lack of conclusive data regarding the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes,” and while researches are still being conducted, the “health risks [of e-cigarettes] cannot be ignored.”

But some vape users remain unfazed. They see vaping as a stress reliever and for socializing.

“For me, [vaping] is a stress reliever, most especially now, because I’m working on my thesis,” Herrera said. “I can vape inside my room without having to smell like cigarette smoke.”

“I see it as more of a hobby than an addiction. It’s nice to hang around vape shops and meet new people,” Paul added.


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