E-cigs offer loophole to Tech’s nonsmoking policy

Smoking cigarettes has become more taboo than trendy, and the habit is rather expensive to keep up. Tech passed a campus rule in 2010 stating that tobacco and related products were not allowed on campus and campus police reward students caught smoking with a fine. Until recently, the only way to get your nicotine fix is to sit in your personal vehicle. A “glittering” new way to avoid the no tobacco rule on campus and get a nicotine fix has been the electronic cigarette, more commonly known for its nickname, e-cig.

Numerous articles and studies have been published about the health benefits and hazards of choosing the e-cig over traditional tobacco products, and The New York Times published an article citing the difference in opinions and called the electronic cigarette “a glittering innovation.”

In 2011, News Channel 5 of WTVF in Nashville published an online article concerning the controversy of the cigarette innovation. From the channel’s website: “An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that resembles, and is shaped like a traditional cigarette. It doesn’t have tobacco leaves… According to the popular daily newspaper USA Today, more than one million Americans admit they have used e-cigarettes to quit smoking.”

The article goes on to explain the benefits and limits of using the cigarette innovation, claiming that electronic cigarettes are not a nicotine replacement therapy or a quitting method. There is currently no evidence that they are beneficial to those who want to break the addiction.

One student, Peggy Mitchell, 19, is on the fence about how to get her nicotine fix.

“I don’t think e-cigs are any more dangerous than smoking a cigarette,” Mitchell said. “You can buy different juices to vaporize and can even cut the amount of nicotine in the juice to zero percent.”

Mitchell has been smoking cigarettes since she started driving and moved on to electronic cigarettes via a co-worker’s suggestion.

“It’s fun to purchase different juices and my favorite one is tastes like mocha,” Mitchell said. “You can’t customize cigarettes like this.”

“I read the smoking policy thoroughly, but just to make sure, I only use my e-cig in my car,” Mitchell said. “No way I’m going to get a fine for my habit.”

Larry Smith, 22, calls electronic cigarettes “mini hookahs in my pocket.”

“I think that switching to the electronic cigarettes has helped me curb my need for nicotine,” Smith said. “I’ve not had a cigarette in over two weeks or craved one, all thanks to my e-cig.”

There are not enough studies published to confirm the health benefits of switching to electronic cigarettes, and it is advisable to use them moderately because of the ingredients in the vapor juices. Smith noted the lack of studies for or against the smoking innovation as concerning but said, “It’s helped me not smell like the bottom of an ashtray.”

“While smoking isn’t good for my health, I can cut the chances of someone getting second-hand smoke effects because of my habit by more than half. It’s a win-win to me.”

Currently, Tech’s nonsmoking policy reads as follows: “Effective January 1, 2010, TTU is a No- Smoking & Tobacco-Free Campus, with all smoking (‘herbal’ and tobacco) and all other tobacco usage permitted only in private vehicles. This policy applies to all university buildings and grounds; TTU-affiliated off-campus locations and clinics; and any buildings or properties owned, leased or rented by TTU in all other areas. Smoking & tobacco use continues to be prohibited in all state vehicles. This no smoking & tobacco-free campus policy is in effect 24 hours a day year-round.”

The policy has not yet been revised to address the use of electronic cigarettes on Tech’s campus.