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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Hazy legality

 
 

Electronic cigarettes are a part of life for some student users, but lawmakers have yet to step in to regulate their use. That may soon change – around the city and across the nation.
Unlike cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes remain unregulated and can be used and purchased by minors. The Food and Drug Administration lacks the authority to regulate makers of e-cigarettes, but the FDA will propose rules for e-cigarettes as early as this month, according to the Associated Press, which could have a significant effect on the multi-billion dollar industry.
College Station Mayor Nancy Berry said the negative health effects of e-cigarettes must be taken under consideration, and Berry said the lack of e-cigarette regulation in College Station could change in the near future.
“At some point, I would expect in the next month or so, our staff will come back with a report and I’m hoping we ban e-cigarettes in the same places that regular cigarettes or tobacco is banned – so you wouldn’t be able to light it up anywhere inside, or at a restaurant or all the places that you can’t smoke now,” Berry said.
Berry said she hopes instituting regulations will be as simple as amending current smoking regulations to also include e-cigarettes. Berry said she is working with Bryan Mayor Jason Bienski and Brazos County Judge Duane Peters on the matter, both of whom are interested, she said.
“I think they’re waiting for College Station to take the lead and then they’ll follow,” Berry said.
Texas A&M student policy, meanwhile, requires all university property to be “entirely smoke-free.” A&M policy defines smoking as “the use or carrying of a lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, tobacco or any other type of smoking substance,” and under the definition of tobacco are listed e-cigarettes.
The rules specifically ban all tobacco use on campus, said Anne Reber, dean of Student Life.
The e-cigarette debate often centers on the health effects of their use. Dr. David Teller, associate director for Student Health Services, said opinions on the health effects of e-cigarettes differ widely but said using e-cigarettes is in some cases a good first step to quit smoking.
“It is similar to the nicotine patches in that this is a replacement for cigarettes without the tar and toxins of real cigarettes,” Teller said. “A person that wants to quit may be able to use this as a bridge to quitting completely.”
Still, Teller said nicotine is a toxin and can be purchased for e-cigarettes in much higher concentrations than found in normal cigarettes. Teller said the growing popularity could also encourage younger people to use them, potentially serving as a gateway to other tobacco products.
An e-cigarette user, junior sociology major Syd McIntire said he originally smoked in the “traditional way” but found that he felt healthier with e-cigarettes.
“Just from a personal standpoint, my lungs feel healthier, I can work out a lot longer, I can run a lot farther and it’s been an overall positive experience for me,” McIntire said. “The cool thing about the vape is I don’t need to sit there and smoke a whole one to justify buying it, I can just take a couple of puffs on my way to class and put it back in my pocket.”
Chemistry major Mark Goloby said he never habitually smoked cigarettes but now takes at least a few puffs from an e-cigarette daily. Goloby said though there are a variety of reasons why e-cigarettes are better to smoke than cigarettes, he also does it for aesthetics and convenience.
Goloby said as long as e-cigarette users aren’t creating obvious distractions with their clouds of vapor, there is no reason why they should be held under the same regulations as cigarettes.
“You’re not going to get cancer from an e-cigarette, there’s no second-hand smoke from an e-cigarette, there’s not even an unappealing odor from smoking e-cigarettes,” Goloby said. “All the reasons why they should be regulated kind of go out the window in this case because they’re all health-based reasons.”
McIntire said the increasing use of e-cigarettes on campus can be attributed to two groups – those looking to e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking and those who are simply drawn to the appeal of it.
“On some level, people who smoke cigarettes or smoke other forms of tobacco and are looking for a way to diminish the harmful effects done to their bodies, but I’ve also seen it’s becoming trendy,” McIntire said. “It’s not one of those things that I think is going to go away, but I do believe that people who are looking for a vice without the detriments of truly having one will turn to a vape just to get the experience of smoking without any of the negative effects.”

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