Wisconsin campuses are dealing with a new form of smoking: E-cigarettesCampuses around the state aren't quite sure how to deal with e-cigarettes, a relatively new product that more young people are trying and using.
By: By Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Campuses around the state aren't quite sure how to deal with e-cigarettes, a relatively new product that more young people are trying and using.
In 2010 University of Wisconsin-Stout banned tobacco, but not e-cigarettes.
“Even if we had decided to pursue something, it would be held in abeyance until students had their say in April,” says Doug Mell, the communications director at UW Stout, who also chairs a campus committee on tobacco-free policies. “We're pretty much in limbo on this issue right now.”
E-cigarettes are banned at University of Wisconsin-River Falls. It declared the campus tobacco-free in July. Blake Fry, special assistant to the chancellor, says the decision to ban e-cigarettes was influenced in part by the lack of data on long-term health effects of inhaling nicotine vapor from the battery operated device.
“We really don't know what's in the vapor,” says Fry. “There's a lot of disagreement as to what's contained in there.”
Fry says the ban was also based on e-cigarettes being misleadingly marketed as “a cessation tool” for smokers, and that students were using them for smoking marijuana.
Students initiated the smoking bans at both universities. UW-Stout's Doug Mell says compliance is getting better. “Do we have people who still choose to use tobacco products on campus in violation of policy? Sure we do. But over the years we've seen compliance increase.”
In Wisconsin, 16 colleges and universities have smoke-free policies, both indoors and out, according to the American Nonsmoker's Rights Foundation.