Electric cigarettes are now banned on campus at Grand Rapids Community College due to recent changes with the tobacco-free campus policy.
According to Lisa Freiburger, GRCC’s Vice-President for Finance and Administration, the policy for the tobacco free campus was to be reviewed at the end of the Fall 2014 semester. The subsection was changed to be a tobacco/e-cigarette free campus. Freiburger said all policies on campus need to be reviewed routinely, and the tobacco free policy was the latest one to be updated and reviewed.
When asked why these changes were made, Freiburger said “there was a number of individuals all across the campus, both in our student life area, and our dean’s office, as well as our campus police and my office that had some conversations about e-cigs and decided to investigate further. After doing so, the policy was amended to include e-cigs.”
Freiburger reported that she was not aware that health professionals were directly included in the decision making process, but said “what we did do was research. We looked at what the American Heart Association was saying, what the American Lung Association was saying, what other cities were doing, and what research they had looked at…the fact that they do contain nicotine, we felt that was sufficient to base our decision on.”
In their report, the reason for the policy is listed as “Grand Rapids Community College recognizes the health hazards of tobacco and medical marijuana use of exposure to secondhand smoke. In addition, the use of e-cigarettes results in a residual aerosol, or vapor being exhaled into the surrounding air. Research indicates that e-cigarettes emit nicotine, propylene glycol, carcinogens, and other substances.”
E-cigarettes are also defined here as “cigarette-shaped devices containing a nicotine-based liquid that is vaporized and inhaled, used to simulate the experience of smoking tobacco.”
The policy change has affected regular electric cigarette smokers across campus, especially those accustomed to being able to smoke in class. GRCC student Steven Nguyen, 18, of Grand Rapids, was disappointed by the policy change.
“I think we should keep them because it is our choice to have them,” Nguyen said. “It is cold outside right now, and if you let us keep them on campus we will not smoke them in class. We will not disrupt people because there is no ash or no offensive odor with the e-cigs.”
Freiburger said administrators decided to ban e-cigarettes on campus because “first and foremost, we are concerned with the health and wellness of students and staff. Clearly there is enough wondering and concern about the health risks of the vapor that is submitted from the e-cigarette. That we felt it appropriate to incorporate the ban the e-cigarette into all of our tobacco free policies for the entire campus community.”
For more information on tobacco/e-cigarette changes at GRCC, please visit http://grcc.edu/sites/default/files/docs/policies/3-5_tobacco_free_environment_policy.pdf