E-cigarette included in USG tobacco ban

Georgia State students will no longer be allowed to smoke e-cigarettes on campus, as a result of the University System of Georgia’s (USG) tobacco ban that will take effect on October 1. This decision was made despite the recent increase of e-cigarette popularity.

The ban prohibits the use of all forms of tobacco products on USG property in order to improve the health, comfort and the environment of individuals who occupy USG properties, according to a press release on March 19.

Senior Tareq Alotaibi said he started smoking e-cigarettes a few weeks ago. He said he likes the flavor and that e-cigarettes don’t smell like traditional cigarettes.

“You can smoke it enclosed spaces and it’s not as strong as regular cigarettes,” Alotaibi said.

The number of e-cigarette-related calls to poison centers was one per month in September 2012. In February 2014, poison centers received 215 e-cigarette-related calls, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The report reveals the liquids in e-cigarettes, which contain nicotine, may cause bad health effects immediately. Poisoning from the concentrated nicotine liquid used to refill e-cigarettes occur by ingestion, inhalation or absorption through the skin or eyes, according to the report. The most common health effect reported in the phone calls were vomiting, nausea and eye irritation.

Researchers at Boston University conducted a study on the effects of e-cigarette vapor on lung cells, according to an article from CBS Atlanta.

The study found that the vapor damaged cells in a way that could lead to cancer similar to the smoke produced by the traditional cigarettes, the article states.

Chip Zimmerman, assistant Clinical Professor at the Georgia State School of Nursing, said he is an opponent of smoking.

“From a scientific standpoint, I’m not certain if the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) or the NIH (National Institutes of Health) has enough data to judge the negative impact on bystanders,” Zimmerman said.

Dr. Michael Eriksen is the Dean of the Georgia State School of Public Health, and is also a professor with a specialization in tobacco control.

He said that while e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes because of the lack of smoke inhalation, they are not necessarily safe.

“Smoking both (dual use) is probably not better, and you are just increasing your nicotine exposure. For a non-smoker to start using e-cigs is definitely of concern, because no one knows if that non-smoker will eventually start smoking traditional cigarettes after getting a taste for nicotine,” Eriksen said.

E-cigarettes and the liquid nicotine used to refill them are currently not regulated by the FDA. Concrete research on e-cigarettes remains limited, including long-term effects and the number of college students who use e-cigarettes.

“E-cig use has increased in all segments of society, probably the most among middle school and high school students. I have not seen any data just for college students, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see high rates of experimentation,” Eriksen said.

He also said it is unclear whether the use of e-cigarettes is a fad or a trend that will continue into regularly into the future.

Elizabeth Wilkowski, a senior at Georgia State, made national news after her e-cigarette exploded while she charged it in her computer, according to Huffingtonpost.com.

She described the explosion as sounding like a shotgun and six-foot flames coming from the e-cigarette. Wilkowski has since switched back to traditional cigarettes.

She also said that if e-cigarettes were not included in the ban, she thinks a lot more students would depend on them because of the stress school can create.

“I don’t think they’re going to be able to stop it. It’s taking the freedom to do something legal away, but I don’t think they’ll be able to stop it,” Wilkowski said.

Junior Humzah Khraim who smokes e-cigarettes said he believes the tobacco ban will have no effect on students who might be trying to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

“Nobody follows the rules. It’s not going to do anything,” Khraim said.