DPS: e-cigarettes can be smoked on campus
“UALR is a smoke free campus.”
One can often see these words scroll across the electronic message board when entering campus from South University Avenue.
Campus Policy 219.9 states that smoking is regulated on all UALR campus locations under Arkansas Act 462. However, nothing is mentioned about electronic cigarettes.
The e-cigarettes are often battery powered or rechargeable inhalers used to replace the traditional tobacco-enhanced smoking. Although similar in appearance to normal cigarettes, e-cigs produce no smoke. Instead, liquid nicotine is heated and released as vapor. Cartridges using only flavored vapor are also commonly in use.
Blu, an e-cigarette trademark of Lorillard Technologies, offers several flavored packs, which include: Classic Tobacco, Magnificent Menthol and a variety pack.
According to bluecigs.com, “On average, each individual cartridge supplies enough nicotine and premium flavoring to accommodate approximately 250 puffs.”
Health affects of inhaling vapor from e-cigarettess are still ambiguous. The Food and Drug Administration has not even evaluated some products, like Blu.
UALR Crime Prevention officer Jennifer Sibley, said some companies are now claiming e-cigarettes contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogenic.
Sibley, who once worked at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, said its campus is completely tobacco free. They do not allow e-cigarettes either.
Sibley’s colleagues on the U of A campus told her that the maneuver to take away e-cigarettes has caused a bit of upheaval since some students attempt to quit tobacco use by using e-cigs.
“It’s always a mild form of nicotine. It’s never as heavy as a cigarette but you can graduate down to where there is no nicotine in them. You can buy them with zero nicotine. So for us to say, ‘you know, well, it’s got nicotine.’ You don’t know.”
Sibley, crediting The Forum’s investigation of the issue, said her officers are now been briefed on the matter and have been told that e-cigarettes are in fact legal on campus.
“They might ask if it’s a cigarette, but when they find out it’s not, they’re not going to do anything,” said Sibley.
Students also weighed in on the conversation online via the UALR Forum Facebook page, when asked how they would feel if a fellow student or professor smoked an e-cigarette during class.
The Forum found, based on student responses, that most students said they would not mind if someone began smoke an e-cigarette during class.
“I don’t smoke but it does nothing to harm the environment or any person,” said Mat Bohannan.
“I feel that smoking e-cigarettes in class wouldn’t physically harm anyone, but I would find it slightly distracting and rude,” said Amy Long.
“I wouldn’t mind, I have way too much other stuff to do to be distracted by an e-cigarette. It’s only water vapor, no harm,” said Kayla Johsnon.
Sayra Crandal said she would have a problem if someone began smoking an e-cigarette in class, adding that it’d be “too distracting.”
“E-cigarettes are no more or less harmful than the air I breathe,” said Tonisha Brown.
While there are mixed perceptions about smoking on campus, cigarettes seem to be here to stay for the foreseeable future.
In an e-mail reminder about the policy on August 29, Director of Communications Judy Williams, told UALR employees that a smoking cessation program is available to students, faculty and staff.
“You can sign up for a web-based support program that provides regular communications and monthly cessation classes.”
In come cases, when medical prescriptions are needed, the campus can provide up to half of the costs. This amount covers 12 weeks of smoking cessation therapy.