By Derek Woellner —

Last week, discussion began on whether the University of Wisconsin–Stout’s Tobacco Free Policy should include electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs. The policy change could potentially ban the use of e-cigs on campus.

Since 2010, Stout has been “tobacco free” which, under the definitions of the policy, means “an environment in which there is no use of lighted cigarettes, cigars, pipes or other smoking materials. The term also includes smokeless tobacco products which result in expectorant.”

Stout was the first four-year public university in Wisconsin to place a ban on tobacco, and since then University of Wisconsin–River Falls and University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point have followed suit. However within their tobacco policies, both of the other universities have also included e-cigs as a banned product. Because of this, Stout will be revisiting its policy, which was written before e-cigs were prevalent on campus.

Many students are indifferent about the ban, but there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Sophomore Patrick Best thinks we should “just ban it” saying, “It’s a tobacco product and this is a tobacco free campus so I thought is was kind of an unspoken rule already that they would be banned.”

The Food and Drug Administration shares Best’s view as the federal agency is currently pushing to re-classify e-cigs as tobacco products.

In opposition to the ban, sophomore Ryan Boehm remarked, “The ban on e-cigs, I think, would be really stupid. For one, they are not tobacco and nothing burns so there is no smoke with it, it’s water vapor.”

Boehm went on to add, “If they ban e-cigs then what will they ban next? Will they ban body spray if I say I don’t like the way it smells? Will I have to go outside to put on body spray because it bothers someone? They also only seem to listen to non-smokers and it seems to me they are just worried about saving face.”

Doug Mell, chairman of the Tobacco-Free Policy Implementation Committee, brought the possibility of an e-cig ban to the attention of the Stout Student Association. Although no timeline is set, Mell hopes to move quickly on a decision. Moving forward, the SSA may put the banning of e-cigs to a vote.

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