Vaping raises concerns at NMSU


Mitchell Allred

National concerns with vaping spur discussion and action at NMSU.

Nationwide news points to a possible link between a recorded 18 deaths and the use of vaping, drawing speculation on whether vaping should be regulated or not.

When discussing the recent reports on vaping, Judi Voelz, Ph.D. and medical director of the Aggie Health and Wellness Center at New Mexico State University, referred to an article written by Harvard Health Publishing.

“I believe vaping is becoming an epidemic,” Voelz said. “Recent study in the National Institute of Health surveyed 44,000 students about vape use. In 2017 an estimated 2.1 million middle and high schoolers reported vaping and that number increased to 3.6 million in 2018.”

At NMSU, Voelz commented that the Aggie Health and Wellness Center has received students who have contracted lung and breathing problems. These symptoms are believed to be correlated with vaping.

The issue is being confronted by advising students on the overall consequences of smoking.

“We screen every student for tobacco use, including vaping and chewing tobacco. They are advised to quit,” Voelz said.

The Aggie Health and Wellness Center also provides on-campus presentations that discourage smoking and inform students of its ill-effects. For those who wish to quit, there are health educators who provide students nicotine replacement products that include nicotine patches, gum, and toothpicks.

In addition, NMSU has rewritten non-smoking policies to include vaping as well as cigarette smoking in the non-smoking areas on campus. The state of New Mexico has also raised tax by 12.5 percent on the liquid that is used in e-cigarette products.

Voelz provided a medical analysis of vaping and her speculation on its safety.

“Nicotine is in most vaping solutions and is highly addictive,” Voelz said. “It causes people to crave a smoke and go through withdrawal symptoms if ignored.”

According to Voelz, the symptoms include raised blood pressure and increased levels of adrenaline that raises the chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

“Some substances in the e-cigarette vapor have even been linked to an increased risk of cancer,” Voelz said.

Fernando Gonzalez, a graduate student in the Anthropology program believes vaping should be held with the same amount of caution as cigarettes.

“If you’re a certain age, you shouldn’t be allowed to buy them,” Gonzalez said.

Former Creative Media Institute student Isaac Duran now works for a grant at the university that focuses on the prevention of underage drinking and prescription drug abuse. Duran believes vaping should be avoided by the public in general.

“I don’t think it’s good to vape. You don’t know what you’re putting in your body and I feel like there could be harms,” Duran said.

Voelz hopes that “a new legislation will from that will hold vaping companies accountable for addicting the younger generation to their nicotine products.”

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