BY MINDY ALLEN
In March, a campus email explained that the smoking policy of McKendree University has been revised to include e-cigarettes, which are banned in campus buildings and dorms. Some people may wonder why e-cigarettes, which are odorless, are also banned in public buildings. This debate is raging beyond the McKendree campus. People are smoking e-cigarettes in restaurants and other public places as well. A CBS news article covered the debate in Los Angeles, where e-cigarettes were banned in the public; the LA city councilman, Mitch O’Farrell, explains why the ban was imposed: “What we’re doing is taking a very sensible, fair approach to regulation that controls the second-hand aerosol exposure to thousands of employees in the work force, young people.”
Thomas Glynn, a director of science from the American Cancer Society, mentioned that even though e-cigarettes appear to be safer than traditional tobacco products, only the short-term effects can be confirmed to be less harmful since e-cigarettes are so new. However, for the non-smoking public, e-cigarettes may appear to be much better than cigarettes, but, Kimberly Bennett, a non-smoking McKendree senior, points out that no one knows what the vapor from e-cigarettes contains: “From what I’ve gathered, e-cigarettes are odorless. Odorless does not mean harmless; for all I know, the makers of the e-cigarette could have masked the toxic smell. Like I said, I do not condone smoking, but–as a nonsmoker–I would rather be walking through a cloud of real cigarette smoke than be around a plume of e-cigarette vapor. With real cigarettes, I at least know what the damaging health effects are, even for second-hand smoking.”
To some non-smokers, coming directly out of a building into a cloud of cigarette smoke is a nuisance, but as Bennett pointed out, at least people know what cigarette smoke is capable of. The smell of smoke is irritating, and the smoke seems to stick to clothes and hair. E-cigarette vapor is also frustrating to non-smokers. Another senior at McKendree, Donna Bick, said that “e-cigarettes are just as annoying as regular smoke in regards to… smell. As a non-smoker, I personally do not want to have to smell [e-cigarette vapor] in classrooms and buildings even if it is considered healthier. I have not read recent studies thoroughly about the effects of e-cigarettes, but I have heard on the news that it is harmful as well, so I certainly would not want to have to breathe it in …”
Of course, whenever anyone talks about smoking, the “smoke-free campus” debate reoccurs. Honestly, I do not think McKendree should have a completely smoke-free campus, and I am not a smoker. Smoking is an addiction; smokers will feel compelled to walk off of campus, possibly between classes, to have a smoke. What is wrong with designating certain areas for smokers? A senior with asthma, who wishes to remain anonymous has experienced the effects of smoke and shared her opinion with me: “Students with asthma should not be roomed with roommates who prefer to smoke… Smoking around campus should be limited to certain areas with smoke signs on them so it does not irritate other students.”
Even though it seems like smokers may use e-cigarettes to transition into quitting smoking completely, it all comes down to the individual smoker. If the smoker truly does not want to quit, then they won’t; smoking is a powerful addiction. As stated in an ABC News article, researchers “found [e-cigarettes] statistically comparable in helping smokers quit over a six-month period,” but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet allowed e-cigarette marketers to advertise with a phrase relating to “kick the habit with our product.” But, just because e-cigarettes are odorless, does that mean those smokers should get preferential treatment? Should they also need to follow the rules that traditional smokers follow?
If you have an opinion about smoking on campus, contact the McKendree Review.
Also, be sure to check out the poll too!