Electronic cigarettes have been a hot issue on campus since their popularity has soared over the past year. Lane’s Public Safety department has issued several warnings to users of e-cigarettes recently asking them to move to the designated smoking areas on campus, leaving some students to speculate that Lane may soon attempt to ban e-cigarette use on campus.
E-Cigarettes consist of a rechargeable battery, vaporizer, cartridge, mouthpiece and heating chamber and traditionally contain nicotine. They are advertised to help smokers kick the habit.
Lane Public Safety Corporal Lisa Rupp said there have been new cases of students using them in class, on campus, in non-designated smoking areas, and also using the device to inhale drugs instead of for typical nicotine use.
Although E-cigarettes may not necessarily emit “smoke” but vapor, Public Safety has found it a problem on campus. The potential health risks of what comes out of the devices have not been tested or determined safe by Food and Drug Administration.
The American Legacy Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to prevent teen smoking, describes electronic cigarettes as “devices often designed to look similar to cigarettes in shape, size, and general appearance. They operate by heating a solution containing nicotine, creating a mist that is inhaled.” This is called vaporizing. They are still considered smoking paraphernalia by Lane officials.
“What the college wants to do is make it so that the e-cigarettes can only be used at the smoking shelters. Nobody’s banning them, so if the college does decide and who knows if they ever will, to go smoke free, like the UO, I’m sure e-cigarettes will be put in that same category,” Rupp said. “Students are using them in class — in the <br/>buildings, in the classrooms — and there have been studies, and it’s all in there [referring to her research] that it does give off chemicals. The vapor does give off chemicals.”
Another challenge Public Safety faces is regulating the use of drugs put into e-cigarettes on campus. While there haven’t been any instances at the main campus Rupp said that she has witnessed the act elsewhere.
“Say for instance, a couple weeks ago, I was walking behind the new downtown campus and somebody walked by me and they were using e-cig but there was marijuana in it. I mean you can tell. So, you can put anything in them. Anything that can be dissolved,” she says.
Stephen Candee, Lane political science instructor, Tobacco Free Policy Committee member and a smoker himself, said he’s trying to be a speaker for the smoking community, but finds it hard to defend smokers who disrespect the rules.
“People need to be more responsible if they are going to smoke on campus, and that includes the e-cigarettes,” Candee said. “For me, the bottom line is if you want these places to remain available then don’t abuse them.”
Public Safety will typically allow most smokers to leave with a verbal warning that includes information on the proper shelters to smoke on campus. However, the citation for being caught smoking a cigarette or an electronic cigarette outside a designated smoking area can result in a $25 fine.
“The bottom line is the research is inconclusive and you cannot assume [e-cigarettes] safe,” Phyllis Temple, a family nurse practitioner at Lane’s health clinic says.