E-cig Use Restricted to Campus Parking Lots

E-cigarettes are banned from campus in accord with Santa Ana College’s smoke and tobacco policy. / Dai Sugano / MCT
E-cigarettes are banned from campus in accord with Santa Ana College’s smoke and tobacco policy. / Dai Sugano / MCT

By Katie Porter  

E-cigarettes are no longer allowed on campus.

The College Council approved a campus-wide ban on e-cigs in December, as part of an existing smoke and tobacco free policy, President Erlinda Martinez said.

But many students and faculty members are unaware of the ban, which has not been strictly enforced.

Although they don’t have any smoke or tobacco, the cartridges vaporize nicotine into puffs of water vapor.

“People don’t want to walk through a cloud on their way to class,” said Rebecca Bernard, coordinator of the Health and Wellness Center.

The council consists of the college president, four vice presidents, two classified employees, Academic Senate president, Associated Student Government president, an appointed teacher and an appointed student.

ASG spent three weeks discussing the matter, taking student concerns into consideration.

“We heard about how they can trigger asthma attacks,” ASG President Jorge Sandoval said.

The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the product. Their website warns that because studies into e-cigs are still preliminary, “consumers currently don’t know the potential risks of e-cigarettes when used as intended or if there are any benefits associated with using these products.”

“You’re inhaling something that you don’t really know what it is,” Bernard says. “That’s scary.”

Many students are indifferent but see the concern.

“It’s more of a courtesy thing. It does have an odor”, said SAC student Eddie Cobian.

Other students said they like the smell, often sweet and fruity.

The only complaints were about vaping indoors.

“Someone next to me in class one time kept blowing theirs towards me, which was pretty annoying,” said student Juan Gonzalez. “But outside? It’s vapor. Come on. If they are standing 10 feet away it doesn’t affect me at all.”

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Earlier this month Los Angeles restricted use of the devices in public places, including restaurants, workplaces, beaches and bars.

Some people use vaping as a way to quit smoking. A study published in the Lancet medical journal declared it equally as effective as nicotine patches, which are an FDA approved secession method.

Manufactures are not required to disclose the chemicals they use in e-cigs, but research has found the main ingredients, other than nicotine, to be propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, listed as “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA.

And the liquids are sold with levels of nicotine from 36mg to none. Many who quit cigarettes start with high levels, and slowly wean themselves off.

E-cigs are only allowed in designated smoking sections in the parking lots. The ban pushes those trying to quit tobacco into an area clouded with smoke.

“I think that’s hugely counterproductive. Even the smell would make me want a cigarette,” student Tom Sturla said.

He is trying to stop smoking and sometimes uses an e-cig.

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