Students, faculty discuss proposed campus ban on tobacco and vaping

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A proposed campus wide ban on tobacco may prevent students from vaping on campus. (Photo Illustration by Austin Fuller | The Collegian)

The use of tobacco products on campus has been a subject of debate for years, but electronic cigarettes and other smoking alternatives have become part of the discussion at K-State.

Currently, K-State’s tobacco ban is still “in progress,” as President Richard Myers has not yet implemented such a ban after his administration said it would look into banning smoking on campus this upcoming school year. However, students have been encouraged to share their opinions on whether or not tobacco should be banned, and whether e-cigarettes should be considered tobacco products in the legislation.

William Moore, campus climate and safety director, said in an email interview that the committee has done a great job of working toward a sound proposal.

“The smoking ban planning is coming together well, and Kylie [Andres] and the committee have done a great job of working with the faculty and students to make a sound proposal,” Moore said. “The committee’s ideas and work to inform the campus are creative, and I don’t think anyone will be caught off-guard with its [implementation].”

Jason DeFisher, junior in pre-veterinary medicine, said he thinks e-cigarettes have many redeeming qualities over traditional tobacco products.

“I do think e-cigarettes are very different than conventional cigarettes,” DeFisher said. “There is less waste since e-cigs don’t leave butts, the smoke isn’t as foul-smelling and many people find it easier to quit smoking after transitioning to e-cigs.”

However, DeFisher said he ultimately thinks e-cigarettes do more harm than good at a public university.

“I do believe e-cigarettes should be included in the ban,” DeFisher said. “While they are not as bad as cigarettes to me, it’s still rather unpleasant to walk through a cloud of weirdly-scented vapor left by someone who vapes.”

“Vaping,” or the usage of e-cigarettes, is common among smokers who are trying to quit smoking. E-cigarettes have fewer harmful chemicals than traditional tobacco products. The liquid e-cigarettes turn into vapor is made of four main ingredients: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, artificial flavorings and sometimes nicotine. Although there is minimal research on vaping as it is still new, Vaping360.com says vaping has a better chance to be “healthy.”

Nicholas Orth, senior in political science and frequent smoker, said he has a more moderate stance due to his tobacco usage.

“I support designated smoking areas, but I wouldn’t support a full-out tobacco ban,” Orth said. “I walk way out of my way already to make sure I don’t smoke near anyone else who doesn’t smoke. Banning tobacco outright is a little harsh.”

Orth said he thinks a total ban on any cigarette equivalents is a bad idea.

“It punishes the wrong people,” Orth said. “The people who try to be courteous about their smoking are pushed farther away, and the people who do smoke while walking to class with a bunch of people behind them are still going to do it. The first step may be making smoking outside a designated area a ticket-able offense.”

Molly Pratt, junior in history, said she supports designated smoking areas for e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products.

“It doesn’t bother me when people smoke as long as it’s in designated smoking areas,” Pratt said. “I also think vaping should be included in the designated areas as well. It does bother me when people use e-cigs as we are walking on campus and that blows on me.”

Taylor Spangler, junior in family and consumer science, said he is strongly in favor of a ban on all tobacco products.

“I am a strong supporter of a tobacco ban on the KSU campus,” Spangler said. “I believe this ban is good for a number of reasons. The first, and probably the biggest reason I support it, is the health problems the consumption of tobacco can cause.”

Sawyer Like, senior in marketing, said he supports adding vaping to the proposed tobacco ban.

“While vaping is not technically a tobacco product, [e-cigarettes] emit nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals in the air,” Like said. “A major reason why smoking should be banned is because of the harmful chemicals contained in secondhand smoke. Just because it’s not tobacco doesn’t mean it’s not harmful.”

Caitlyn Dougherty, senior in history, said she supports the ban as a way of pushing future students toward healthy lifestyles.

“I think the tobacco ban is overall great toward a healthier generation,” Dougherty said. “I think any e-cigarette that has the smallest amount of nicotine in it should be included as well.”

Moore said the tobacco ban may have the potential to increase enrollment.

“I think the ban will provide a boost in new applications and enrollment,” Moore said. “Our campus will be friendlier to a generation that is smoking less and less, and many other campuses across the country are going smoke free.”

Moore also said the ban has the potential to structurally stop smoking.

“I do not believe vaping and e-cigarette products should be classified as a tobacco product,” Moore said. “While vaping and e-cigarettes can help stop smoking tobacco, they can still cause some of the same annoyances that smoking tobacco can cause. Even if a passer-by doesn’t mean for you catch their smoke cloud, it can be annoyance to some or be a bad moment on someone’s tour of campus. Despite this, K-State has an opportunity to structurally stop smoking.”

Cindy Bontrager, vice president of administration and finance, said student and faculty input will be a component of any potential tobacco ban.

“I believe we will be having conversations with students, faculty and staff as we move forward with the policy and try to get input of what they think the policy should be,” Bontrager said. “I think there’s still a lot of issues that we need to work through. It’s becoming more complex than we thought it would be at first.”

Bontrager said a tobacco ban could also affect K-State’s campus employees who are smokers.

“The question then becomes, what will the employees do on campus?” Bontrager said. “If you’re here for a full eight hours, what do you do? If we do the whole campus, will they go across the street into residential areas and create problems with our neighbors?”

With regards to banning vaping as well, Bontrager said she had minimal knowledge on what e-cigarettes and vaping were. She expressed uncertainty about whether or not vaping would be included in the proposed legislation.

“I don’t know, to be quite frank,” Bontrager said.

Bontrager added that the K-State administration and the Student Governing Association will conduct their own research to make an informed decision.

“We will reach out to other campuses and get their input,” Bontrager said. “Pittsburg State University has a full ban, and we will reach out to them, see what they have done and take that into consideration in the process.”

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  • Calireefer

    Wow… even at a college level no one can do any basic research. Fearmongering is alive an well in our society. https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-14-18

  • charlie

    Be more tolerant and permissive with vaping to encourage smokers to switch. That will save them thousands of dollars a year to help pay tuitiion (my diy elliquid costs $25 a year compared to $3,000 to smoke a carton a week) May be smokers who are greatful to the school for helping them stop smoking will express that gratitude in later years with more generous gifts to the school. Enlightened self interest.

  • An Alpena MI man recently died from vaping fentanyl, an opioid, in an e-cigarette. E-cigarettes are stealth drug paraphernalia which can be odorles… An Alpena MI man recently died from vaping fentanyl, an opioid, in an e-cigarette. E-cigarettes are stealth drug paraphernalia which can be odorless and are therefore used undetected, even in public, to inhale opioids, methamphetamine, heroin, crack cocaine and THC, among others. Bystanders are also exposed to these drugs when they are in the vicinity of a drug addict vaping them. Analyses of e-liquids has found ethanol (ethyl alcohol) in them and research on the effects of vaping it shows it diminishes motor skills, meaning vaping and driving is DUI alcohol.
    Tobacco companies are drug pushers and nicotine e-cigarettes are one of their tobacco products. The health risks of e-cigarettes have actually been known for years because they emit synthetic fog generated the same way as AC electricity powered fog machines. The battery power source of e-cigarettes even adds a gruesome new health risk because they explode and burn, propelling broken parts like shrapnel, searing throats, perforating tongues, breaking jaws, shattering teeth, blistering lips, lacerating eyelids, puncturing cheeks, blinding eyes, charring hands, incinerating clothing and fracturing cervical vertebrae resulting in paralysis.
    E-cigarettes are battery powered synthetic fog toys available with nicotine and flavors. They give adults desperate to quit smoking tobacco a false sense of harm reduction, plus children who never smoked tobacco are lured into substance abuse to taste and smell flavors, with visual thrills from the fog, addicting them to nicotine, and ultimately most of them start smoking tobacco also.
    So, long term damage from inhalation of e-cigarette emissions by both users and bystanders is already well known because they generate emissions/vapor with propylene glycol/glycerin heated by electric coils exactly the way special effects/theatrical artificial fog machines electrically heat propylene glycol/glycerin, with occupational safety authorities having known for over a decade that exposure to that synthetic fog is hazardous to both workers and audiences who inhale it.
    See: Smoke and Fog Hazards, By Michael McCann, Ph.D., C.I.H., Center for Safety in the Arts, 1991, University of Illinois Chicago;
    American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 47, Issue 5, May 2005, Pages 411–418, Effects of theatrical smokes and fogs on respiratory health in the entertainment industry,
    Sunil Varughese MSc, et al, first published:12 April 2005; Ontario Ministry of Labour, Fog and Smoke Safety Guideline for the Live Performance Industry in Ontario, Issued: August 2005, Content last reviewed: September 2012; Ontario Ministry of Labour, Guideline No. 9: Smoke and Fog | Safety Guidelines for the Film and Television Industry in Ontario, ISBN: 978-1-4249-9952-1, Issued: November 1990, Revised: June 2009, Content last reviewed: March 2011; Ontario R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 833: CONTROL OF EXPOSURE TO BIOLOGICAL OR CHEMICAL AGENT, under Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1, Versions current July 1, 2016, Table 1 Ontario Table of Occupational Exposure limits-Propylene glycol; Safe Stages by Theatre Alberta and Alberta Human Services.
    Minors have been major consumers of e-liquids/e-cigarettes when it has been known all along that they should not be handled by children. The warnings to consumers about emissions from propylene glycol heated by electric coils in fog machines have been available for years on the Halloween fog liquid label”This product is not intended for use by children.”
    Add to that the fact that e-cigarettes often inflict property damage (e.g. car fires), third degree burns and ballistic trauma when they explode; that they emit some of the same carcinogens and toxins in tobacco smoke (formaldehyde); that they emit some toxins and carcinogens not even found in tobacco smoke (propylene oxide, chromium, glycidol); and enough is already known for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to block e-cigarette importation plus order e-cigarette recalls, and for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate nicotine e-liquid in e-cigarettes as tobacco products. Without waiting for action by those agencies, local and state governments plus hospitals, universities and companies can protect employees and the public by making vaping e-cigarettes illegal everywhere smoking cigarettes is already outlawed in their jurisdictions.
    E-cigarette and e-liquid peddlers initially tried to give their customers and bystanders a false sense of safety by claiming that e-cigarette emissions are only water (by the way, water vapor is also a byproduct of burning tobacco, just like any combustion, so it doesn’t make vaping safe), but as laboratory evidence has proved that to be false they now claim that it is safer than tobacco smoke because there is no ‘tar’, however even without tobacco smoke the nicotine itself is dangerous because it damages arteries and the heart (habitual e-cigarette use was associated with a shift in cardiac autonomic balance toward sympathetic predominance and increased oxidative stress, both associated with increased cardiovascular risk) and is a powerful neurotoxin. Nicotine is so poisonous that synthetic analogs of it called neonicotinoids are used as pesticides. Inhaling nicotine by either vaping nicotine e-liquids or smoking tobacco is like huffing bug spray.
    The wording of “E-cigarette: an evidence update. A report commissioned by Public Health England” (sometimes attributed to the Royal College of Physicians) that said that “best estimates show e-cigarette are 95% less harmful to your health than normal cigarettes” is flimsy, and their “95%” statistic turns out to be a feeble guess, not a real percentage based on mathematics using data or measurements.
    Recently attention has been focused on banning laptop computers from airliners as bomb threats yet none has been directed at e-cigarettes, which have an e-liquid container of flammable fluid which could easily be replaced with an explosive substance. E-cigarettes must be banned from not only checked bags but also all carry-on bags, including pockets and purses.
    Finally, most people who vape e-cigarettes continue to smoke cigarettes anyway, resorting to e-cigs only when they are in places where smoking tobacco is not allowed.
    E-cigarettes are bogus harm reduction, a smoking cessation hoax and a threat to public health and safety.