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Extinguishing e-cigarettes on campus

graceAt this time last year, students were beginning to adjust to the newly instituted tobacco policy on campus which limited where smoking could take place.

Now that the policy has been in effect for a year, it appears as though it was for the best — the campus is cleaner, which was one of the main goals aside from limiting secondhand smoke.

However, ISU was not the first university to enforce a policy such as this one, and recently, other universities are already considering modifications to their own set policies to include e-cigarettes. The rise of electronic cigarettes creates a problem for tobacco policies because  these instruments are designed to give the user a rush of nicotine (usually flavored), through heated water vapor, not tobacco. In fact, according to a Huffington Post article, Ohio State University recently included e-cigarettes in its tobacco policy, which bans the products from campus.

E-cigarettes are a difficult topic because while they do not include tobacco, they are not regulated in the same way that cigarettes are. This means that there are still a lot of unknowns in regard to how e-cigarettes affect a person’s health, but many people claim that they helped them stop smoking regular cigarettes, according to a post on WebMD’s website. Elizabeth Phillips expressed that “e-cigarettes allowed me to gradually quit smoking without completely removing myself from the physical actions and social experience associated with smoking.” She went on to say that she considers her “e-cigarette experience as a baby step that changed my life.”

Despite the number of unknowns, I think that it is time for people to really consider creating e-cigarette policies or officially reject including them in current policies. The products are everywhere — Julia Louis-Dreyfus even smoked one at the Golden Globes. However, because of the lack of tobacco, many people are using them inside, like Louis-Dreyfus.

Over the summer I took a number of classes at ISU, and one student was actually caught smoking an e-cigarette in the classroom by our professor. She put a stop to it, and I think it was rightfully so. There is absolutely no need to use such a product in the middle of class, or even inside buildings aside from someone’s home. But I see no real reason to ban them on college campuses at this point. I know there is not a lot of research on the matter, but because many people use them at least as an attempt to stop smoking, I think that they should be commended for making the effort

I know that some arguments against e-cigarettes include that it makes smoking look OK to children, especially with the flavor choices. I know that this could become an issue down the line, but at this point in time, if this is a tool to help someone stop, I see no reason to cause a ruckus. I agree that it could become problematic if this entices more people to smoke, but right now, I really don’t think a large amount of non-smokers are becoming smokers by using e-cigarettes and instead, those who already smoke are often using them.

Because there is unclear ground about e-cigarettes at ISU, it’s a tough call to say whether or not they should be included in the campus tobacco policy. Senior publishing studies major Janell Gardner said she doesn’t think the products should be included in such policies. “If smoking vapor can help people stop smoking actual cigarettes on campus, then I say more power to them. It’s better than walking through random clouds of smoke that actually smell,” she explained.

If ISU chooses to modify its tobacco policy, hopefully these thoughts on the matter will not go up in smoke.

Grace Johnson is a senior publishing major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding her column can be sent to dvgvjohns@ilstu.edu.

 

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