The E-Cig Effect
Nick Simpson drips Davy Jones Locker flavored liquid into a coiled chamber and screws it onto a battery. He pushes a button on the side of the battery, which heats the liquid and turns it into a vapor. He then inhales the vapor like a cigarette.
Simpson, a freshman actuarial science major at Ball State, recently began using e-cigarettes. He first used his friend’s e-cig, but eventually bought his own this summer.
Simpson tries to smoke twice a day for 10-minute periods. Simpson is part of the 29 percent of college-aged adults that uses an e-cig.
Aroma Coffee and Vapor Store owner Todd Effinger relies on e-cigarette growth and popularity to keep his business thriving.
“I wouldn’t be in the business if I didn’t think they would become more popular,” Effinger said.
His main customers are adults who’ve smoked for many years, but are trying to quit traditional tobacco products, and college students who have picked up e-cigarettes for a variety of reasons.
Large racks of e-cigarette oils line a section of the wall, organized by flavors. A central display case houses different modules and batteries for the e-cigarettes, and a tasting station is assembled for customers to try as many flavors as they want.
When renovations are complete, Effinger hopes his store, located on McGalliard Road, will combine the relaxed, social aspect of a coffee shop with the modern twist of an e-cigarette store.
Simpson said the social aspect of using e-cigarettes is comparable to traditional smoking.
However, e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco. They consist of a flavoring, propylene glycol, a chemical found in many foods and soaps, and usually a dose of nicotine.
Simpson prefers his e-cig oil nicotine-free. He enjoys smoking primarily for the vapor tricks and the flavor.
“I have Davy Jones Locker. That’s my favorite.” Simpson said. “It’s like a mixed berry flavor.”
Aroma Coffee and Vapor Store employee, Perry Hovermale, said he always recommends blueberry-flavored oil to new customers.
“I’ve had a lot of college students that lean more towards [using] the soda-flavored oils,” Hovermale said. “I think more often than not, a lot of them go toward the sweeter oils.”
Effinger said oil flavors have exploded from basics like cherry and mint into more complex flavors like root beer float and Mountain Dew, both common at Aroma.
While most e-cigs do contain nicotine, Hovermale said he’s seen several college students who smoke just for the flavor.
Simpson said he smokes e-cigarettes because he can still get the same buzz with less chemicals and side effects.
“I think they’re the smarter choice,” Simpson said.
However, Ball State health educator Julie Sturek said the risks of e-cigarettes are still unknown.
“Just because they are smoke or tobacco free does not mean they’re healthier or safer than traditional cigarettes,” she said.
Sturek said because e-cigarettes are a new trend, there has not been a lot of research on both short-term affects and long-term affects.
“[The future of e-cigs] depends on what the regulations are and once the government figures out how they want to get their piece of the pie,” says Perry.
E-cigarettes still have not been acknowledged as being safe or unsafe substitutes for traditional tobacco products.