Opinion: No ifs, ands or butts; e-cigs have got to go

Brooke Purves and Brooke Purves

“Even if they’re not ‘real’ cigarettes, the e-cigarettes still have a foul-smelling odor and do not belong indoors,” said biology major Karissa Merrill in an email to The Current.

Vapor pens and e-cigarettes are devices that look like cigarettes, wherein a liquid containing varying amounts of nicotine, sometimes mixed with different flavorings, is mechanically heated to produce a vapor that is inhaled by the user and then exhaled into the surrounding air. This liquid is a substitute for tobacco in conventional cigarettes.

Some vapor pens have come under fire as being marketed to younger consumers, because the product comes in “kiddie” flavors, like strawberry, chocolate and cotton candy.

But make no mistake. Just because e-cigarettes are the newest expression of smoker rebellion, doesn’t mean students want to stand around someone exhaling something that smells like the inside of the Jelly Belly factory.

“I’m glad they’re banned indoors,” said Merrill.

Other Los Rios community colleges have already put in place policy indicating that e-cigarettes are regulated the same way tobacco cigarettes are.

For example, last year, Folsom Lake College rolled the use of e-cigarettes into the policy governing tobacco use on campus. American River College should do the same.

“The campus views e-cigarettes the same way as any tobacco-related product,” said ARC Public Information Officer Scott Crow in an email with The Current. “People must follow the existing smoking guidelines and policies. Even if e-cigarettes are not explicitly mentioned in a current policy, the act of smoking is prohibited regardless of the implement/product used to do it.

Although Sgt. Mike Olson was not available for comment at the time of this writing, a representative from the Los Rios Police Department confirmed that e-cigarette users must follow the same rules as tobacco smokers concerning where on campus they can smoke.

Students need to understand that when they are “vaping up” in class, in buildings or within 30 feet of a building, they are violating code and subject to disciplinary action – including suspension.

In addition, to tolerate the use of e-cigarettes in designated non-smoking areas gives the impression that they are safe for the people that use them and for the people around those that use them.

Although a study published in the Oxford Journals indicates that e-cigarettes do not emit the same “combustion toxicants” that regular cigarettes do, it does show that they are a source of secondhand nicotine exposure.

And because vapor pens are unregulated, it unclear clear if there are any other “trace chemicals in that vapor that will harm bystanders,” according to Prevention.com.

While there haven’t been enough studies to adequately determine the negative effects of secondhand exposure from e-cigarettes, there also hasn’t been enough research to indicate that e-cigarettes are safe for anyone.

Using e-cigarettes and vapor pens in buildings is distracting, inappropriate and classless. No butts about it.