No butts about it: CU bans e-cigs

Up in smoke: Former CU student Hayley Robinson enjoys a puff of her electronic cigarette. Vapors have recently been banned from indoor use on CU’s campus.

Up in smoke: Former CU student Hayley Robinson enjoys a puff of her electronic cigarette. Vapors have recently been banned from indoor use on CU’s campus. Photo by Kaylee Jones.

Kaylee Jones

Assistant Managing Editor

Vice President of Student Services, Jennifer Holland, has made Cameron’s stance on e-cigarettes known.

To prove she is not just blowing smoke on the matter, on Sept. 9, Holland sent an email to the entire student body banning the use of electronic cigarettes, or vapors, inside campus buildings and vehicles.

“We started receiving quite a few complaints by students, faculty and staff about people using the electronic cigarettes and vapors in the classroom,” Holland explained. “We looked at the [tobacco] policy… but it doesn’t really say anything about e-cigarettes.”

Cameron University has been a tobacco free campus since 2011.

However, the recent rise in the use of e-cigarettes has forced many academic institutions to reevaluate their tobacco policies.

After several complaints had been filed, Vice President Holland along with Dr. Ronna Vanderslice, Vice President of Academic Affairs, addressed the Executive Council.

“She and I both felt like it was very important,” Holland said. “We brought it to the Executive Council’s attention, and ultimately, made the recommendation to the President that we felt like, in the interim, while we can study it more, we just need to allow [e-cigarettes] outside.”

Holland summarized their ruling: “We didn’t modify the tobacco policy; we just added it to the frequently asked questions section of our page.”

Cameron is not the only public university considering rewriting their tobacco policy to accommodate the popularity of electronic cigarettes.

“Colleges across the state are doing a variety of things,” Holland explained. “They’re either totally banning them or they allow them outside. I haven’t read very many that allow them to use [e-cigarettes] indoors.”

Tulsa Community College has banned them, along with Oklahoma Wesleyan University and Oklahoma State University, while the University of Oklahoma allows them to be used outside only.

In a letter to OSU from Dr. Terry Cline, Oklahoma’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, shared that Oklahoma has the fourth highest smoking rate in the country.

Thirty-six different vapor stores are listed in the Oklahoma Yellowpages alone.

Studies have shown that vapors are an effective replacement for smokers looking to quit; as a result, demand for vapors in Oklahoma has grown significantly.

However, the rise in usage has left many people unsure of how to address the growing popularity of e-cigarette use in public facilities.

“There’s not this accepted courtesy of how to use them yet,” Holland said. “There’s so much unknown about the safety of them because they’re so new.”

Currently, the punishment for a violation of the ban is along the same lines as a tobacco violation, a written citation; although Holland encourages community policing through notifying violators that smoking the vapors inside is not allowed on campus.

Kevin Stieb, President of Student Government Affairs, said the matter had been discussed, but backlash should not be expected from S.G.A. at the moment.

“No one has legitimately expressed a desire to write legislation about vaping,” Stieb wrote. “Any legislation would be considered and deliberated, because it would be a hotly contested issue.”

Currently, Holland said she has received nothing but positive feedback since sending the email.

“I’ve gotten a lot of responses to my email, clarification and people thanking me for the decision,” Holland said. “No one has disagreed that they’re inappropriate in the classroom.”

“Over the next few months we will work with student government, work with faculty senate,” Holland projected. “We’re going to get an idea of whether or not they need to be considered as part of our tobacco policy ban, whether they need to be allowed at all or whether we just need to keep them outside.”

“The more we know about it,” Holland said, “the better we will be at making decisions.”

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