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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

City

Electronic cigarette ban favored by some students, faculty


Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Last month, Houston City Council passed the proposal to ban vaping and electronic cigarettes in public spaces, with some students and faculty supporting the law.

Effective immediately, the ban brought vaping and e-cigarettes under the same laws that already restrict cigarette smoking in certain areas, such as enclosed public spaces and seating areas.

While there has been some debate on the subject, experts like clinical sciences professor Dr. Camille Leugers said the evidence about the harm of e-cigarettes is clear. 

“While vaping is thought to be less harmful than conventional cigarettes it is not safe,” Leugers said. “The vapor from e-cigarettes contains small molecules which can damage the lungs of smokers and increase the risk of heart disease.”

While e-cigarette vapor is less harmful than cigarette smoke, the aerosol is still likely to contain a number of harmful substances, Leugars said, citing the Centers for Disease Control research.

While many students agreed with the health aspects and implications of the new law, some questioned whether enacting stricter bans was worth the cost of limiting someone’s ability to use e-cigarettes.

“I’m for it if it does cause problems with people breathing in secondhand smoke,” said political science junior Shawna Campbell. “Although, the more we restrict people from doing things, the more freedoms we have taken away in the long run.”

Other students were more positive about the ban, despite them being e-cigarette users, noting how this goes along with preexisting laws regarding tobacco products. 

“I vape from time to time, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the law,” said information systems management junior Mykyta Rudskyi. “You used to be able to smoke in airplanes or restaurants, but people change. We decided to make spaces more comfortable for everyone.” 

This law was in line with how smoking regulations have evolved, and emphasized the effectiveness of similar measures on the habit of smoking, Leugers said.

“The regulations of smoking indoors, referred to as ‘clean indoor air laws’, reduced the impact of secondhand smoke on non-smokers,” Leugers said. “Not only that, but they were also associated with a decreased prevalence of smoking.”

Leugers noted the rise of e-cigarette use in adolescents, and expressed hope that the legislation would make a serious impact on the reduction of its use.

“I’m pleased to note that Houston is working to improve the quality of our indoor air, and I hope that the new legislation reduces the prevalence of vaping in our city,” Leugers said.

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