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Vaping Is Driving College Students To Ditch Cigarettes

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Cigarette smoking among American college kids is declining as students increasingly turn to vaping devices for a nicotine fix, but campus officials across the country are considering bans on the practice.

Officials at Penn State University are the latest to float the idea of a campus-wide ban on smoking and vaping products despite declining smoking rates among college students that many attribute to the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes. The American College Health Association’s fall 2016 survey showed the percentage of college students smoking daily or every other day dropped below 5 percent in 2016, while the vaping population grew, reports Daily Collegian.

Cigarette smoking is still far more prevalent on campuses than vaping, however, the stats show college students are starting to transition to e-cigarettes to satisfy cravings. While this appears to be a public health win, campus administrators at Penn State are still considering a full ban on tobacco products, that will include vaping.

Many students are critical of the proposed policy shift, arguing restricting people’s choices in such an extreme way will cause discord among the student body. (RELATED: State College Joins Growing Body Of Schools Banning Vaping Anywhere On Campus)

“I could definitely see if Penn State was cut back to a tobacco free campus that violence or crimes would increase, people turning to other ways to cope,” Ryan Lunsford, an employee at Valley Vapes, told the Daily Collegian. “As I would try to wean myself off of [nicotine], I would vent that energy out…I was really aggravated around people, it didn’t take much to get me going.”

Administrators say vaping devices could pose a threat to their fire alarm system, causing unnecessary disruptions across the campus. They also say that big plumes of vape clouds are becoming the norm when walking around campus and affecting the lives of non-users. Critics argue campus policy shouldn’t be driven by the actions of a few bad actors.

“I understand why some people want that because some people are jerks and blow cigarette smoke or vapes in people’s faces,” Joe Turpin, a Valley Vapes customer, told the Daily Collegian. “[A ban on vaping] would suck, school is stressful and without nicotine between classes, I don’t know what I would do.”

Public health experts note vaping offers smokers a viable way to reduce harm to themselves and cut down on second-hand risks to those in their proximity. They argue attempts to restrict the practice ignore the gains being made on reducing smoking rates throughout the country.

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