Vaping on a Smoke-Free Campus

In Features, Latest News by Rachel Durling

Mint, mango and creme are three ice cream flavors available at Baskin-Robbins. It is possible that these mouth-watering flavors promote memories of late-night ice cream trips with friends or after-school ice cream runs to get chocolate-covered waffle cones.

If you don’t associate mint, mango and creme with Baskin-Robbins, perhaps you are more familiar with these words printed on Juul pod packages. A Juul is an electronic cigarette with nicotine salts from tobacco packaged into one-time use cartridges.

Juul.com says the product was “developed as a satisfying alternative to cigarettes,” and has “improved the lives of one billion adult smokers.”

The ingredients in a Juul pod are glycerol, propylene glycol, natural oils, extracts and flavor, nicotine and benzoic acid.

According to NBC, a pharmacologist at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in New York, Maciej Goniewicz, tested the liquid of three Juul pods, “and identified a lengthy list of chemicals that fall under just one of Juul’s five ingredients, ‘flavor.’”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says nicotine harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control. There are no studies to determine the long term effects of vaping, and vaping devices are not bound by standards of safety set by the FDA.

In addition to the dangers of nicotine, e-cigarettes can explode and cause injury. BBC News reports a man in Florida who died when his device blew up and burned over 80% of his body.

PLNU’s undergraduate student handbook says students must, “abstain from the use or possession of smoking products, vaping products, and tobacco products.” PLNU is a dry campus, so drugs and alcohol are prohibited regardless of a student’s age.

Jake Gilbertson, the Dean of students, says a student caught with an electronic cigarette is required to meet with their Residential Director, and the product is confiscated.

High schoolers and young adults appear to be experimenting with vaping more frequently. NBC says The Centers for Disease Control is expected to report a 75 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use this year.

Gilbertson says the vaping trend is an effect of companies that are “making millions of dollars by telling young people that this is cool.” Gilbertson says he is not surprised to see vaping become so popular.

Sidney Blankespoor, a junior social work major and Hendricks Resident Assistant, thinks the habit gained popularity because people justify it. Blankespoor comments on the common perception that vaping is significantly safer than cigarettes. “Vaping could easily just become as harmful to your lungs,” she says.

Zoe Mcfarlane, a freshman psychology major, says vaping popularity arose because, “people think [e-cigarettes] are not as bad as smoking, and people think it makes them cool.” Mcfarlane has never experimented with vaping or e-cigarettes.

“I could care less about vaping. It’s not something that I want to do,” Mcfarlane says.

Caleb Kastein is a freshman environmental science major who also abstains from nicotine use. He says once you start something, it’s hard to stop, so he doesn’t “see the need.”

Kastein says he has been offered an e-cigarette before. “I’ve had to consciously think through what would happen and consciously decide not to,” he says.

A PLNU freshman Childhood and Adolescent Development Major has been regularly vaping for over two years. She prefers to stay anonymous to avoid facing consequences from PLNU administration.

She thinks e-cigarette popularity will decline. “My senior year of high school everyone would have a Juul in their hand. Then at the end of summer, people would have thrown it away,” she says.

A freshman Communications Major has been vaping for eight months. She says the habit is expensive, forcing her to quit in a few weeks.

Juul.com sells one pod for $20.99, and the website claims it is intended to last 200 puffs.

Social smoking is a term popularized by Truth, a campaign that aims to end teen smoking in the US. Smokefree.gov defines a social smoker as someone who smokes “when hanging out with friends or to feel comfortable in social situations.”

Gilbertson says the best strategy to avoid social smoking is to use discernment and wisdom when making choices even with the prevalence of e-cigarettes. “Juuls are everywhere. You can buy them while you’re waiting in line at Target,” Gilbertson says.

It is possible that the entire city of San Francisco could join PLNU in an e-cigarette free environment. San Francisco officials are proposing changes that could ban vape sales in the city, says CNN.

“I don’t have huge confidence that governments can regulate this stuff,” Gilbertson says. He hopes the change will have an impact on the city if it passes legislation.

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