After a new statewide resolution was introduced in 2013, universities across Louisiana have been working to ban tobacco and stop co-eds from smoking on campus. As each university determines how to implement the new college smoking bans, some have chosen to also prohibit vaping, while others are ignoring ecigs until further research is complete. At the University of New Orleans, a committee took on the task of setting specific rules within the new tobacco ban, but when it came down to electronic cigarettes, they could not reach a consensus.
The committee included staff members and students and they were split down the middle on whether to ban or allow e-cigarettes on campus. The decision was handed over to President Peter Fos and students fully expected vaping to be banned. That’s when the UNO student government rushed into action. They quickly worked to pass a new resolution and petitioned Dr. Fos to allow ecigs on campus while agreeing that tobacco products should be banned. As the student body joined together to stand for their right to vape, Dr. Fos decided to honor their wishes. He declared that ecigs could stay at UNO, at least for now.
Fernando Reyes, a Student Government Senator at UNO, said the students pushed for ecigs to stay because they are undeniably different than tobacco cigarettes. “We did feel like vaporizers, being water vapor and not really causing a problem for anyone else, should be kept on campus,” he said. “We had the support on campus… to make the bold claim in the face of the administration that we don’t want this ban quite like it is.”
The students were thrilled to hear that their resolution had been successful and vaping would remain on campus. Chris Toups, an engineering student at UNO, said that allowing ecigs to stay could help more co-ed smokers learn that they have a different option. “The only way I found out about e-cigs was seeing other people smoke them. There hasn’t been enough research, but the one thing we do know unequivocally at this point is that those 200 extra chemicals – besides just nicotine – aren’t present in vapor,” he said.
Toups said that there is no logical reason to ban ecigs since they do not produce secondhand smoke. “I know that if I puffed up around you right now it wouldn’t bother you nearly as much as a regular cigarette. You get this slight sweet smell for just a second, as opposed to that really strong cigarette smell. But I’m not trying to blow it in anybody’s face,” he explained.
While Dr. Fos could still change the ecig policy in the future, students are celebrating that at least for now, vaping can stay. Hopefully some of the smokers on campus will turn to ecigs now that their normal tobacco products have been prohibited. If that’s the case, we could see a drastic fall in tobacco use statistics among UNO students this year. If that’s the case, allowing ecigs on college campuses could become a new progressive choice for universities that are truly concerned about student health.
Do you think UNO will see an increase in vapers in the coming year? Will more smokers turn to ecigs now that tobacco is banned?