Many people at Salt Lake Community College do not know that electronic cigarettes are viewed the same way as regular cigarettes and as such smoking them indoors on-campus is not allowed.
“As far as not smoking e-cigs at the community college, I am kind of torn on it ‘cause for one thing, the e-cig is said to be indoor-friendly, but at the same time, there haven’t been very many studies about e-cigs and the health effects that they have on other people and yourself,” says SLCC student Craig Anderson. “So, I am kind of torn about it. I am okay with it, but at the same time, I wish it was allowed.”
E-cigarettes have been on the U.S. market since about 2008. They are defined by state law as “any electronic oral device that provides a vapor of nicotine or other substance; and which simulates smoking through its use or through inhalation of the device; and includes an oral device that is composed of a heating element, battery, or electronic circuit.”
The college wants the campus community to be healthy, both mentally and physically. Part of that includes the prohibition of smoking e-cigarettes in any college-owned building.
“The information I know right now about the e-cigarettes is that you are just breathing out water vapor. So if it is just water vapor I don’t see what the harm would be smoking them indoors,” says Anderson.
One of the main benefits to smoking e-cigarettes is that, according to advertisements, they can be smoked anywhere since smokers are only exhaling vapor and not tobacco.
“I think that is partial truth. It does have water vapor, and the water is harmless, but they don’t address that which is harmful because they want to make money, and I understand that,” says Dr. Marlin R. Clark, Dean of Students. “Because they do have nicotine, and they do have the thread of something that has been determined not to be healthy, they are not healthy or legal on-campus.”
The Utah Clean Air Act supports this ban. The law forbids smoking in public places. The state defines smoking in Utah code 26-38-2 as “the possession of any lighted or heated tobacco product in any form or inhaling, exhaling, burning, or heating a substance containing tobacco or nicotine intended for inhalation through a cigar, cigarette, pipe, or hookah.”
“I think the school should stay in the position they are currently in until research shows differently. Like, right now, the law in Utah states that the e-cigarette is classified the same as a cigarette. They are in the same classification, so if that’s the case, then the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act states that you can’t smoke one indoors, and that’s what Salt Lake Community College should be following. So really we need the law in Utah to change if studies come out,” says Anderson.