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Colorado Campus Expands No Smoking Policy To Include Vaping

Colorado Campus Expands No Smoking Policy To Include Vaping


Colorado Campus Expands No Smoking Policy To Include Vaping

As smoke-free policies take over on college campuses, vapers have increasingly found themselves lumped in with cigarette smokers as part of a "problem" to be regulated out of existence instead of a viable tobacco cessation method. At Northeast Junior College (NJC) in Sterling, Colorado, a decision was recently announced expanding their 100 percent smoke-free campus rules to include vaping and other electronic smoking devices.

The expansion was supported by the local STAND tobacco coalition (Stop Tobacco & Nicotine Dependence), which is organized by the Northeast Colorado Health Department, and helped with the roll-out of the provisions. Reasons cited as motivating the expansion included “concerns about unknown health risks from the devices.”

"Protecting the health of our students and staff has always been one of our top concerns. The increase in use of vape and other electronic smoking devices on campus led us to expand our existing policy," said Steve Smith, Vice President of Student Services, in a press release from the Northeast Colorado Health Department noting the policy expansion.

"While the full health risk posed by vaping and electronic smoking devices has yet to be fully determined, it does not mean vaping is safe," the department observes. "The large white clouds of aerosol vapor produced by vaping devices is not harmless water vapor. Numerous studies document that the aerosol vapor contains dangerous toxins, including heavy metals and chemicals known to cause cancer."

It's disappointing that no specific study was cited, nor were specific examples of the "dangerous toxins" or "chemicals known to cause cancer." While some early research did suggest the presence of these toxins, flawed experiments actually burned older-generation e-cigarette wicking and then tested the resulting smoke instead of vapor. Even then, most of the harmful elements observed were admittedly present at much lower levels than those found in secondhand cigarette smoke. In fact, the newest and most comprehensive research testing actual "secondhand vapor" exhaled by real vapers instead of wick-smoke-inhaling robots, was unable to replicate earlier findings even in a busy vape shop where several employees and customers were actively vaping indoors.

In 2009, NJC became the first college campus in America to become 100 percent smoke-free and this would be a marked expansion for the college.

“For those that do not have plans to quit at this time, we recognize and appreciate the personal sacrifice that you will be making while on the NJC campus,” Smith noted in a statement to the college in 2009. “The air around us will be cleaner, hundreds of cigarette butts will no longer litter the campus grounds, and we will all breathe better and healthier as a result of going in this positive direction. We are truly proud to become a smoke-free campus beginning this summer.”

As of January 2018, there were at least 2,106 100 percent smoke-free campus sites. Of these, 1,771 are also 100% tobacco-free, 1,686 also prohibit e-cigarette use, 868 also prohibit hookah use, and 220 also prohibit smoking/vaping marijuana. This number grew from 586 campuses with 100% smoke-free campus policies in October 2011 and 446 campuses in October 2010.

The American College Health Association’s fall 2016 survey showed the percentage of college students smoking daily or every other day dropped below 5 percent in 2016, while the vaping population grew. Cigarette smoking is still more popular on campuses than vaping, however, and the stats show that college students are becoming more open to alternative technologies that reduce harm to themselves.