All across the country, university administrations are beginning to reckon with a new reality: the prevalent use of e-cigarettes on their campuses, particularly JUULs.
The devices, which utilize a heating element and a liquid pod to deliver vaporized substances — typically nicotine — to a user’s body, have become increasingly popular with teens and young adults. While JUULs were previously viewed as a “safer” alternative to cigarette smoking because they do not include certain carcinogens and tar, recent evidence suggests that vaping may cause serious lung injury and illness. The Center for Disease Control and the Food & Drug Administration estimate that as of Oct. 22, 2019, 1,604 cases of lung injury due to vaping or e-cigarette use have been reported in 29 states, the District of Columbia and one U.S. territory. Thirty-four deaths have also been confirmed.
In response, several colleges and universities have proposed or enacted vaping bans on their campuses. For example, Texas A&M University recently announced a ban on “every inch” of their campus.
While the Editorial Board recognizes the health risks inherent in vaping, we do not believe than an out-and-out ban is the best policy to encourage students to make the best health decisions. Underage alcohol consumption is a prime example; even though drinking is illegal for individuals under the age of 21, many younger college students still choose to drink — often, in serruptitious pre-games and parties that can prove more dangerous due to their secrecy. The Editorial Board believes that a ban on vaping would not prevent students from using JUULs, but would simply move the practice more underground. It could also disincentivize students from seeking medical attention if they need it, which could increase the dangers of vaping.
Instead of simply banning JUULs, the university should invest in an education program, as many students are uneducated on the potential dangers of vaping. That way, students could make informed decisions about their own health.