No one enjoys walking through a cloud of cigarette smoke as they exit a building on campus. There has been plenty of research on the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, plus, it just smells bad.
Now we’ve added vaping to the mix. Vape pens produce vapor that smells like plastic mixed with popcorn or plastic mixed with bubble gum or another artificial analogue for a supposedly pleasant scent. It’s especially pleasant when multiple clouds of vapor mix with the clouds of smoke outside of buildings.
Youngstown State University updated its Code of Conduct last year to include vaping in its tobacco use policy. This means that vape pens and e-cigarettes must be used 50 feet away from campus buildings, just like cigarettes.
YSU made this choice so students and faculty wouldn’t be exposed to the vapors. This may come as a surprise to those of you who pull out your vape pens and blow bubblegum-flavored vapor into the air during class.
Vape pens and e-cigarettes are marketed as a safe alternative to smoking tobacco. Not enough research has been done to know for sure if secondhand vapors poses a health risk, but research shows they are harmful to the person smoking them.
A study published in the “American Journal of Physiology — Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology” suggests that e-cigarettes and vaping liquids can harm lung cells.
“Scientists suspect it may have to do with solvents and other potentially toxic materials that are inhaled through e-cigarettes,” the study said.
But the vaping ban isn’t likely to stop anyone from using e-cigs or vape pens near campus buildings anyway. According to an administrator, the smoking policy isn’t strictly enforced or abided by.
Which begs the question, why have a policy that isn’t enforced? We should at least keep smokers and vapers from crowding under the overhangs of DeBartolo and Cushwa Halls, and other areas near the main entrances to buildings.
Unlike second-hand vapors, there are several studies pointing to the hazards of secondhand smoke. According to the American Lung Association, it causes more than 41,000 deaths per year.
If you accept the risks of smoking and do it anyways, the consequences fall on you — but don’t expose other people to the carcinogens. Be considerate.
As for the university, maybe we should work on enforcing the existing tobacco policy before trying to expand it. If people are ignoring the policy and smoking tobacco near campus buildings, what’s expanding the policy to include vaping going to do?
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