Students, faculty discuss proposed campus ban on tobacco and vaping

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, 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.”

I'm DeAundra Allen, co-editor-in-chief and sports editor at the Collegian. I'm a junior in broadcast journalism and pre-law, with a minor in philosophy. I was born in Brighton, Colorado, home of La Placita and the Bulldogs. I moved to Kansas in 2010, and fell in love with press boxes at a young age. In my spare time, I talk about my pets, sports, and work towards going to law school.