Electronic Cigarettes Added To College-Wide Ban On Smoking
When Miami Dade College approved a college-wide smoking ban in April of 2011, it didn’t have electronic cigarettes in mind.
But this past July, the Board of Trustees voted to amend the College’s ban to include electronic cigarettes, billed by some as a healthier option, and quickly gaining popularity with younger smokers.
An e-cigarette is an electronic inhaler used to substitute tobacco smoking. The mechanism, which mimics traditional cigarettes, uses a heating element that releases a vaporized substance.
While most resemble cigarettes, others look like everyday items such as pens.
“It becomes a public safety issue,” said Iliana Castillo-Frick, MDC’s Vice Provost for Human Resources. “We feel that electronic cigarettes portray an image that confuses the students who are walking around the campus and know that the college is a smoke-free college.”
Adriana Romero, a student at Wolfson Campus, who is not a smoker, thinks the College didn’t think its ban on e-cigarettes through.
“If you can have people smoking electronic cigarettes instead of traditional cigarettes, isn’t that a good thing all around” Romero asked.
However, no rigorous studies have been conducted to prove that e-cigarettes are a productive smoking cessation method.
Currently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the e-cigarette industry so it is unknown how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during their use, if their are any benefits associated with the device, or if they are safe.
The FDA states on their website, “as the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes have not been fully studied, consumers of e-cigarette products currently have no way of knowing.”
The college-wide smoking ban prohibits smoking at all MDC facilities. Areas include but are not limited to portions of buildings owned or leased by the College, enclosed hallways, outdoor areas, parking lots, rooftops, plazas, courtyards, entrance and exit ways.
If students, faculty and staff are caught smoking they are asked to comply. Students who refuse to comply, are directed to the Dean of Students Office, and staff and faculty members, who ignore the ban, will be reported to their supervisor.
Several violations of the smoking ban can result in disciplinary action, including dismissal. However, what constitutes “disciplinary action” is not defined in the policy.
Miami Dade College isn’t alone in the banning of smoking on campus.
Other major universities like the University of Miami and Florida International University are among a long list of institutions that have their own policies that ban traditional smoking and e-cigarettes.
For those who disagree with the recent updates to the smoke-free campus policy at MDC, there might be hope.
“We will revisit this policy regardless,” Frick said. “The college reviews its policies every two years.”
Staff writer Gabrielle Arzola contributed to this report.
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