Overheard On Campus: Are clove cigarettes addictive like regular cigarettes?

Contributed by Beau Dooley, M.S., M.P.H.
Introduction by Tyler Achilles

My first thought on this is yes. As a former smoker, I smoked clove cigarettes for about six months thinking that they were better because of the “taste,” and I felt that they still satisfied my nicotine craving. I’m not sure of the exact make-up of clove cigarettes, though, so I’ll let Beau Dooley, Associate Director of Student Wellness and Outreach at James Madison University, fill you in on the details. Beau says …Man smoking clove cigarette

A number of flavored tobacco products on the market have become popular among smokers, in part because they are perceived to be cleaner, more natural, and safer than regular cigarettes. Clove cigarettes are one such product. Clove cigarettes are imported tobacco products that contain 60% to 70% tobacco, 30% to 40% ground cloves (aromatic dried flower buds), clove oil, and other additives. It is the ground clove and clove oil that give these products their distinct flavor and odor.

Because clove cigarettes contain tobacco (and therefore nicotine – the addictive substance in tobacco), they are just as addictive as regular cigarettes. Moreover, some studies have found that some brands of clove cigarettes contain even higher levels of nicotine than American cigarettes, which would make them even more addictive. Furthermore, as with regular cigarettes, clove cigarettes also contain many harmful chemicals that may lead to cancer and other significant respiratory illnesses.

The bottom line is that clove cigarettes are neither less addictive nor safer than regular cigarettes.

What’s your experience with clove cigarettes?

Overheard On Campus: Are e-cigarettes safe?

Contributed by Beau Dooley, M.S., M.P.H., & Lisa Salazar, M.P.H, A.C.E.-C.P.T.
Introduction by Tyler Achilles

As I’ve mentioned before, I used to smoke when I was in college, which was not that long ago (really!). Luckily, I was able to quit cold turkey without the help of nicotine patches or gum or other methods. When I heard about e-cigarettes I was kind of confused. While there seems to be an inherent air of safety because e-cigarettes don’t involve inhaling a big puff of smoke that can damage your lungs, there have to be some drawbacks, right?

Girl using e-cigarette

One of our experts, Beau Dooley, Associate Director of Student Wellness and Outreach at James Madison University, has mixed feelings …

E-cigarettes are currently a hot topic of conversation. The short answer to your question is that the safety of e-cigarettes is being fiercely debated by public health experts, the tobacco industry, e-cigarette manufacturers, and the FDA.

E-cigarettes work by using a battery-operated heating element to vaporize nicotine (located in replaceable cartridges), which the user then inhales. There is neither tobacco nor smoke involved. E-cigarettes typically look like cigarettes, pens, or USB flash drives.

Supporters of e-cigarettes say that by isolating nicotine and not using tobacco, e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, which contain thousands of harmful chemicals. Additionally, supporters are comparing e-cigarettes to other proven nicotine replacement products that help smokers quit. Opponents of e-cigarettes say that a lack of FDA guidelines concerning their production could lead to inconsistency in safety among different brands. For instance, depending on the brand being used, consumers may get differing amounts of nicotine (which is highly addictive) and other chemicals that may be as harmful as those found in cigarette smoke.

So are e-cigarettes safe? I suppose it all depends on what you hope to get out of using the product. If you’re a smoker, they might be a safer alternative to cigarettes. If you’re a smoker and want to quit, know that there is no scientific evidence showing that e-cigarettes are an effective quit product (as compared to medication, nicotine patches, etc.). If you do not currently smoke and simply want to start by using a safer product, I would reconsider until the verdict is out among experts as to how safe e-cigarettes really are.

Lisa Salazar, Director of the Wellness Center at Idaho State University, still isn’t convinced …

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are one hot topic in the health and safety world. Not unlike traditional cigarette companies, companies producing and selling the e-cigarettes are making wide claims of their product being a safer alternative to cigarettes. In addition, there are claims and hundreds of testimonials that e-cigarettes are instrumental in helping traditional smokers quit. The manufacturer of one popular brand has even fortified its product with extra vitamins to make it “more healthy.”

While they may be safer than a traditional cigarette, they still deliver nicotine, which remains a very addictive substance. In addition, testing by the FDA has shown that e-cigarettes still contain cancer-causing substances and toxins including diethylene glycol, an ingredient found in antifreeze.  There are simply too many unknowns in the contents and long-term effects of e-cigarettes to be certain as to whether or not e-cigarettes are safer than their traditional cigarette counterparts. It could simply wind up being a matter of the lesser of two evils. Thus, despite having some very appealing flavors (including coffee, cherry, mint, and chocolate) to choose from, the bottom line is that e-cigarettes simply are not very safe.

It sounds like there isn’t enough information yet to really say whether or not e-cigarettes are safe. Maybe safe isn’t a word we should be using to describe any type of addictive substance, even if the risks are lowered. Have you tried e-cigarettes? If so, what do you think about them? Write a comment in the section below. Click here for more Overheard On Campus posts.

Overheard On Campus: Is there any way to get free nicotine patches?

Contributed by Lisa Salazar, M.P.H, A.C.E.-C.P.T., Beau Dooley, M.S., M.P.H., & Melissa Kelley, M.S., C.H.E.S.
Introduction by Tyler Achilles, B.A.

Wow! This kid knows where it’s at. I’ll admit when I was in college, I picked up smoking cigarettes. Soon after I graduated, though, I realized a couple of things:

  1. It was a dirty habit (so dirty that it hindered my ability to get a date – sooo not good), and
  2. Uhhh, I think smoking kills you.

I applaud this student for asking this question on MyStudentBody, and so do our experts …

Girl taking puff of cigarette

Lisa Salazar, director of the Wellness Center at Idaho State University, says …

This is a terrific question. To start, let’s look at some startling statistics regarding tobacco in the US: According to the Centers for Disease Control, 443,000 deaths are caused by smoking each year, 20% of adults are smokers, and 20% of high school students also smoke. In addition, tobacco use has been crowned as the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. All the more reason to ask your question, right? Exactly.

Because there’s the possibility that people from all over the country (and the internet) are reading this response, it’s not an easy question to answer. So let me give you a resource that can provide you with the individualized information you seek. Each state has a quit line established. The national quit line is 1 (877) 44U-QUIT. Many of the quit lines throughout the states are able to offer free tools including patches to help increase the likelihood of success with quitting. In addition, many student health centers offer free patches to help students quit smoking and begin making better long-term health choices.

Beau Dooley, associate director of Student Wellness and Outreach at James Madison University, recommends …

Treating your nicotine dependence is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health, and nicotine patches are one of many effective tools that can assist in your effort to quit using tobacco products.

Access to free nicotine replacement therapies (such as nicotine patches) varies by state and community. However, every state has a free tobacco quit line that’s staffed by counselors, and many of them offer free nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges to those who are eligible. Start your search by contacting the quit line in your state and find out if it offers free nicotine replacement products. If so, determine if you are eligible to receive them. Calling 1 (800) QUIT-NOW can help connect you with your state quit line and other local tobacco cessation resources. Other places to consider looking for free nicotine patches might be your local county health department, your university health center, and local free clinics or nonprofit agencies.

If cost is a barrier to accessing nicotine patches, not buying cigarettes or other tobacco products (depending on how much you use) might actually save you enough money to purchase nicotine patches without putting extra strain on your personal finances. Good luck in your attempt to quit using tobacco, and remember that nicotine patches work best when used in conjunction with other proven tobacco cessation methods.

Melissa Kelley, a health educator at University of Rochester, says …

First, congratulations on your choice to quit smoking! While the decision to quit may have been difficult, there are some great resources available to help you manage this major lifestyle change. In New York State, there is a program called the Smoker’s Quitline that does help provide free nicotine patches and gum, but it is limited to New York State residents. Here is the website: https://www.nysmokefree.com/register/default.aspx#.

If you live in another state, the best place to start would be to contact your local or state health department to inquire about tobacco cessation programs available to you. If you live on a college campus, a great place to start would be your health services office or a health promotion office, as I am sure they would have access to the resources that you need!  Good luck!

So, I hear there’s a quit line you can call? Check the quit lines out to get free stuff to help you quit using tobacco. Share this article with your friends by using the share bar, or write a comment in the section below. Click here for more Overheard On Campus posts.

Scare tactics: Are new cigarette labels effective?

The AP recently ran a story about an FDA proposal to use scary images of the effects of smoking on the labels of cigarette packages.

I am of two minds on this. On the one hand, I am a big fan of ANYTHING that might encourage even one person to quit smoking, as I think it is a really horrifically bad habit. On the other hand, though, I have a strong aversion to scare tactics, and this seems to fall pretty solidly in that category.

What do you think?