Universities around the country are struggling to figure out how to handle the tobacco issue. While many have already banned smoking on campus, there are still a few colleges that allow smokers to freely smoke without any repercussions. This week, the editorial board from St. Edwards University decided to take action and call for administrators to make policy changes to protect nonsmoking students from the constant barrage of cigarette smoke.
St. Edwards is a Roman Catholic university based in Austin, Texas. It is one of the few smoker-friendly campuses left, but students hope that will change soon. This week, the student paper published an editorial that urged officials to take up the cause, complaining that smoking had become a major problem. They suggested that the solution was actually simple: just ban all tobacco products, but welcome smokers to use e-cigarettes instead.
The editorial board criticized St. Edwards for following “antiquated” policies and called for change in the near future. “Whether smoking is allowed on campus in order to cater to different cultural traditions or because it looks cool, e-cigs can do the job without bothering those that don’t smoke,” the board wrote.
Students are frustrated that smoking is so widely accepted on the campus and the health implications are just part of the problem. “We, on the editorial board, don’t really care if individuals want to smoke cigarettes, but we don’t like it because it affects us too. Our lungs are not made of steel and our olfactories work just fine. This means we can get irritated by the horrid smell of cigarettes as we’re trying to enjoy coffee outside…”
However, the editorial takes a surprising twist when an alternative is presented. Instead of simply banning cigarettes and leaving many smokers inconvenienced and frustrated, the students would like to see tobacco banned and e-cigs accepted. They argue that ecigs eliminate the secondhand smoke and provide an odor-free way for students to enjoy nicotine without bothering those around them.
“E-cigs are better than cigarettes,” the board wrote. “If someone smokes an e-cig, you don’t have to smell it from three tables over like you do a cigarette. Even when sitting next to a smoker, the effects of secondhand smoke are lessened.”
Maybe the FDA should pay attention to what these students are suggesting. While they are busy trying to regulate electronic cigarettes, people are still smoking and filling the nation with secondhand smoke that can be deadly. Why not embrace e-cigs as a positive alternative rather than seeking to restrict and eliminate them? If anything should be banned, it should be tobacco.