As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, 1,666 people have voted that e cigarettes should not be banned on the Oklahoma State University campus. Sixty six, on the other hand, have supported the idea of the ban.

If this poll serves as any sort of indicator for how the community feels about the ban, we think the OSU/A&M Board of Regents should be willing to reconsider its stance.

The ban on e cigarettes on campus comes on the heels of Governor Mary Fallin s use of an executive order to bypass the legislative process and institute a ban on e cigs on state property.

Almost 1,200 American colleges have banned traditional cigarettes on campus, including OSU, according to the American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation. Of these, more than 800 have banned tobacco products entirely.

The two primary motivators for such bans are undoubtedly the danger posed to the public by secondhand smoke and the danger posed to the individual user by consumption of tobacco products. But in the case of e cigarettes, neither of these two criteria apply.

A recent Nicotine and Tobacco Research study determined that in the case of e cigarettes, bystanders were not exposed to any byproduct of the user other than nicotine, and even that exposure was 10 times less than traditional cigarettes. And while the jury is still out on the full range of health effects to the user, e cigarettes do not use tobacco.

Moreover, some users including a woman wishing to be identified only as Shannon, affiliated with OSU report that the use of e cigarettes has helped them overcome their tobacco addiction, thus living healthier lives with e cigarettes than they did before.

So why was banning e cigarettes so important that Fallin chose to issue an executive order banning their use on state land, and why did the OSU/A&M Board of Regents see banning e cigarettes as such a vital concern?

In defense of the ban, Fallin argued, E cigarettes release vapor that contains chemicals that can impact employees and visitors to state property. Additionally, many electronic cigarettes look like traditional cigarettes and emit a vapor that looks like smoke. This creates confusion for employees and visitors, and presents enforcement challenges for state agencies.

Sean Gore, chairman of the Oklahoma Vapors Advocacy League, dismisses Fallin s claims, saying that no credible source has identified a danger to the public with the consumption of e cigarettes.

Many have taken special issue with the latter part of Fallin s argument, the claim that e cigarettes ought to be banned simply because they look like traditional cigarettes.

The whole situation seems to be a knee jerk reaction before adequately examining the facts and a prime example of government overreach. The Board of Regents ban on e cigarettes is likely of the same kind, a public relations move to paint OSU as a leader in public health.

The reality is that the long term effects of e cigarettes are still unknown, and the student opposition to the ban is nearly unanimous.


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