Some Clark State Community College students who smoked electronic cigarettes during class prompted the college’s board of trustees to change policy this week to treat the trendy devices as traditional cigarettes.
“It was a distraction for students, facility and staff. You are going to take a second glance, because it looks so much like a real cigarette. We are tyring to protect the health and wellness of students and staff,” Director of Retention Services and Student Life Nina Wiley said Wednesday.
Now students must smoke electronic cigarettes in their car or in designated smoking ares around the campus.
“We have smoke-free areas near all entrances to buildings to protect the health of people going in and out of buildings,” Wiley said.
Mathematics student Philip Price said people puffing on the building definitely attracted attention.
“It’s like ‘what is that guy doing? He’s lighting up a cigarette. Oh, it’s an e-cigarette,’” Price said.
Clark State student and self-proclaimed smoker Jacob Long said he is in favor of the new rule.
“You see this cloud of smoke going from these people, and I don’t think they should do it in the building,” Long said.
Long noted the school has students that come straight from high school and said they do not need to be around that.
“I think in the school setting it doesn’t need to be there. You have kids underage coming from high school that are here,” he said.
E-cigarettes currently are a $2 billion industry and are expected to grow in popularity over the next five years.
E-cigs, for short, often look like a real cigarette and use to heat to produce a nicotine vapor, giving the user the feeling of a cigarette without tar and other chemicals.
Supporter of e-cigs say they can help people quit smoking by weening them off and believe they are a healthier option.
However, critics say they are just as addicting and can be a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes, especially for teens.
Currently in Ohio, there is no age limit to buy electronic cigarettes.
The Washington Post reports students in middle schools and high schools around the country are using e-cigs during class.
Last week the Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill to make the age limit 18 for someone to buy alternative tobacco products, including e-cigs, and now that awaits Senate approval.
Long said he supports Clark State’s new rule because he said he could see young students becoming addictive, especially if the school was facilitating it.
“You have underage kids, and it’s still tobacco. Even though it may not be harmful to their health, it made lead them to say I may try that out, especially if I can do it at school and get away with that,” Long said.