IUPUI's Updated Tobacco Policy is Met With Mixed Reactions

Map of allowed smoking grounds from Inside IUPUI.

Map of allowed smoking grounds from Inside IUPUI.

For a smoker, nothing is better than a drag of a cigarette after a long lecture. For non-smokers, this means encountering unwanted health risks on their way to class. One partial solution for many is to use electronic cigarettes or vaporizers. However, now electronic cigarettes are being restricted on campus because of concerns about student safety.

A new change to the smoking policy on IUPUI’s campus was received with mixed reactions. Electronic cigarettes and vaporizers are now included in tobacco restrictions on campus along with traditional cigarettes being confined to New York and Michigan streets.

This is not that new to IUPUI. The first nonsmoking policy was added in 2006 to correlate with Indiana University regulations on smoking on campus property. The extension for electronic cigarettes was added July 2015.

Electronic cigarettes and vaporizers have gotten increased attention in the past few years with being marketed as a device to help smokers stop smoking. Many feared that younger teens and preteens would decide to use them because of the variety of flavors and ease of purchase online.

Some students have already been written up in dorms for having electronic cigarettes. Mike Symcox is a Chemistry and Biology dual major, whose roommate found a broken vape pen and they picked it up with the intent of fixing it.

“Before I got a chance to fix it, the RAs said ‘room checks,” Symcox said. “One RA spotted it on my desk because I just had it there. I was unaware they weren’t allowed in the dorm rooms because they were last year.” Symcox and his roommates were written up for the incident.

“She asked me about it. I ended up getting written up for it. I had to go to 3 conduct meeting regarding it because technically it is prohibited items,” Symcox said.

The first 12 months of research for a study in Italy were released February of last year. It is one of the first valid studies on the comparison of electronic cigarettes and traditional cigarettes, though it will not be completely done until 2019. Sixty-one percent of the group designated for only electronic cigarette use had quit traditional smoking by one year compared to 20.6 percent of the traditional smokers quitting.

Unfortunately there are no published medical studies on the safety of electronic cigarettes so far. There is also still limited regulation of products. Some think the restriction of these products could be problematic because electronic cigarettes and vaporizers could be used to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. Others feel it is hard to regulate the usage of them because many do not contain nicotine.

Vadim Petrov, who is an employee at IUPUI and also uses an electronic cigarette, brought up a point about the components of the juices.

“I think it’s a tough matter because what if the electronic cigarette doesn’t contain nicotine,” Petrov said. “It’s just glycerin that’s being inhaled and exhaled and then how is that different from inhalers that are used for medical conditions. Where exactly do you draw the line?”

Though he questions the ideas behind the policy, he agrees that it should be restricted.

“I smoked for many years and being a smoker, I’m sure I would have been completely opposed to it. Being smoke free, it’s different because you think ‘well there’s a lot of people being bothered by it and basically everybody needs to be protected,’” he said.

Regardless of the method, nicotine has many effects on different parts of the body.

Though IUPUI’s new restriction could deter some from using electronic cigarettes to quit traditional smoking, many nonsmokers would agree that it could contribute to a healthier campus.