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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Campus

Professors want rules to prevent students from vaping in class


Under amended UH guidelines, vaping is not allowed on campus. This doesn’t stop students from getting their fix walking to and during class. | McKenzie Misiaszek/The Cougar

Although there are prohibitions against vaping in public institutions, specifically on school campuses, professors are taking additional steps to ensure students do not vape in their classrooms.

As the number of people who use electronic cigarettes climbs by the day, the percentage of young adults addicted to e-cigarettes is rising to epidemic proportions.

“If someone is in class trying to pay attention and take notes and there is someone in the corner hitting their vape and blowing clouds into the air, or even trying to hide it, it’s going to take away from their time in class,” said architecture junior John Sirrieh.

Professors have begun to explicitly prohibit vaping in their syllabus, taking action against those vaping in class due to students’ widespread use.

Andrew Pegoda, a professor at UH since 2008, had an incident with a student vaping during one of his lectures earlier this fall.

“As far as disciplinary action goes, there is no policy that UH has about how that should be handled,” Pegoda said. “But instructors can say it’s inappropriate behavior and that would be grounds for removal from a class, and that’s not something I’d want to happen.”

Aside from a vaporizer device in the classroom being distracting and disrespectful to both the professor and fellow classmates, it has the potential to be harmful.

The American Lung Association states that harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene and other carcinogens have been found in the vapor of e-cigarettes. And although the secondhand vapor of e-cigarettes is less harmful than the secondhand smoke of a traditional cigarette, being exposed to these carcinogens is still dangerous.

“If somebody is being exposed to that secondhand, yes, certainly you could be getting that stuff on your skin and potentially in your airway,” said Dr. Jason Robinson, who is studying the effects of electronic vapes at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center. “The bottom line is we don’t know what the potential ramifications are.”

There are toxic chemicals found in the juice and vapor of an electronic cigarette. Since a large majority of these products are made overseas, it is difficult to determine what goes into what is manufactured.

It is possible that there are more harmful chemicals in these products than we are currently aware of. Since vaping is a relatively new trend, scientists have limited knowledge of the long-term effects that may incur.

“My mother’s grandparents died of lung cancer from smoking, so I feel like vaping is pretty much the same thing,” said architecture junior Hannah Montalvo. “It says it’s less (harmful), but it has just as much nicotine in them as cigarettes.”

UH has expanded its no-tobacco policy to include electronic cigarettes, but some faculty members believe that is not enough.

“I think something that would help is some kind of regular email reminders,” Pegoda said. “More signs around campus would be helpful because that would let campus visitors know about the policy and remind students (that UH is tobacco-free).”

The rules and regulations at UH, though present, do not rid the campus of e-cigarettes, vapes or other devices. Professors and doctors alike want more safety in regards to secondhand e-smoke.

“The best thing would be if students would just be considerate enough to not vape or use those products in class because other students could have sensitivities and it’s simply against the rules,” Pegoda said.

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