Push and pull with smokers and new policy

The recent electronic cigarette ban, in association with the Minnesota Clean Air Act, has stirred up much controversy throughout many public establishments, including the SCSU campus. In July of 2014, SCSU added electronic cigarettes to its “Tobacco-Free Campus” campaign. This advance by the university now makes the use of electronic cigarettes on any part of campus against university policy, including outside university buildings and any sidewalks or walkways on university property.

“I think it’s kind of ridiculous,” Josh Perkins, a junior mass communication major said. “It makes sense not to smoke it indoors just because of the social stigma that’s attached to it and some people just don’t like that, but there’s no reason not to be able to smoke it outside,”

Many students like Perkins share the same views, disgruntled at the fact that more and more restrictions are being implemented on nicotine users.

“I don’t really see the point of banning e-cigs, like they’re not hurting anyone, especially in dorms. As long as your roommate doesn’t mind it, I don’t see what the problem is, “Toby Hiscock, a senior exchange student from London, England said.

Hiscock had this to say after being informed that SCSU initiated the outdoor campus ban: “I think that’s all awful. That’s really bad. I really think there’s no need for it.”

“I think the policy change that happened at St. Cloud State is reflective of what happened with the legislature this summer,” Corey Beckerman, the director of human health services at SCSU said. “This legislature this past summer changed Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, and with that we were notified from MNSCU that all electronic nicotine devices are banned in all MNSCU facilities effective August 1.”

In regards to the outdoor ban, Beckerman had this to say, “The campus decided to be consistent and not confusing; they would have the e-cigarettes follow what our current tobacco policy is, which is prohibited on campus property and vehicles.

“The policy’s intent was never to say that no one can smoke; there are rules that allow the campus to designate smoking areas that allow students to use nicotine and still be within the policy,” Beckerman said.

With designated smoking areas assigned to allow students who enjoy both cigarettes and electronic cigarettes stay within the policy, some students, like Hiscock, believe that it’s hurting the original goal of the electronic cigarette.

“People use them (E-cigs) to help them quit smoking cigarettes,” Hiscock said. “That’s why I bought mine. If I could smoke my e-cig inside or smoke my e-cig outside, I would be fine. I would actually be quitting smoking right now, but I’m not because I can just come down here (designated smoking areas) and have a real cigarette down here, so why not just keep smoking?”

When asked about health hazards that e-cigs pose, Beckerman states that there have been a few documented cases of poisoning of children under 18 caused by wrongful ingestion, specifically drinking the liquid and using the product incorrectly. However, Beckerman had no response as to whether or not e-cigs are actually harmful to the user or the people that may be surrounding the user and the vapor that escapes from the device.

Contrary to what Beckerman has stated, the “Minnesota Vapers Advocacy” has provided 15 health studies that have shown positive research in favor of nicotine vapor and electronic cigarettes.

The argument of whether or not nicotine products and tobacco products are of the same equivalence has also risen throughout this controversial debate. Both Hiscock and Perkins believe that e-cigarettes cannot be labeled tobacco products because they are used to help tobacco users to stop using tobacco.

However, the Minnesota Department of Revenue has labeled all nicotine products taxable under tobacco tax.

Whether the government is holding out information to its citizens about the harmfulness of electronic vapors or if they simply don’t want to backtrack the immense progress they’ve had already on big tobacco, we will not know until even more research is conducted.

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