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Throughout campus, students, faculty and staff can be seen smoking not just cigarettes, but electronic cigarettes. Unlike normal cigarettes, some people will smoke the e-cigarettes indoors, which is against Weber State University school policy.
“Electronic cigarettes came into being a few years ago,” said Bill Fruth, the director of the Shepherd Union Building. “We had to figure out what other schools were doing and other buildings . . .”
Fruth said the Utah State Legislature passed a bill ruling that e-cigarettes were banned from indoor public buildings. House Bill 245 banned both e-cigarettes and hookahs from indoors.
“If we see someone . . . we inform them of the policies,” Fruth said. “People are cooperative.”
He said staff occasionally finds people smoking e-cigarettes inside the union building, but it is infrequent.
“Part of the problem with e-cigarettes is they haven’t really been studied to the best of my knowledge,” said Shawn McQuilkin, Student Health Center physician and medical director. “They’re a relatively new invention . . .”
McQuilkin said that, because there is little information about e-cigarettes, the things he has learned come from observations he has made and from what people have told him. He said he cannot recommend e-cigarettes one way or the other.
“They have not been studied in this country; they are not shown to be effective in any studies,” McQuilkin said. “I’m not saying they have been shown to be ineffective — there haven’t been any good studies to know one way or the other. So that puts doctors kind of in a difficult position.”
He said the most common complaint people tell him about is they seem to get an upset stomach from the device related to how often they use it, but he said he does not know if that is from the nicotine or the propellant.
McQuilkin said he thinks the reason e-cigarettes have been banned from indoors is because they have not been studied.
“If you have a family member that wants to either smoke a cigarette indoors or smoke an e-cigarette indoors, you’re probably a lot better with the person doing an e-cigarette,” McQuilkin said, “keeping in mind that nicotine is an active medication and, in doses that are high enough, are toxic. In fact, they use nicotine in black ant and roach killer.”
McQuilkin said patients have told him they have quit cigarettes using the e-cigarettes when other things have not worked. He has also had people tell him their nicotine consumption has gone up, because they will smoke the same amount outside as they usually do and then smoke the e-cigarette indoors as well.
Weston Cordova, who works at Vapor Mania in Sunset, an e-cigarette store, said e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes.
“There is a thousand times less chemicals inside,” Cordova said.
He said there are four ingredients in every flavor the store sells: vegetable glycerin, water, nicotine at varying levels and the artificial flavoring.
“I think it’s OK in certain places, like stores or places that don’t allow minors,” Cordova said. “As far as school or in restaurants, I understand it can be bothersome to some people and can start fights.”
He said e-cigarettes have helped him quit his habit of chewing a can and a half of chewing tobacco a day. He said they also helped his manager quit after 40 years of smoking. E-cigarettes allow smokers to wean themselves off of nicotine by adjusting the amount of nicotine in the e-cigarette. Cordova said some people will drop the amount to no nicotine at all, but some don’t necessarily want to quit altogether.
“I encourage people to do more research about it,” Cordova said. “Almost everyone has a family member who needs help, and this can really help them.”