By: Erin Picazo
Currently, on all Montgomery College campuses, multiple signs prohibit smoking tobacco. So then, why was I told to get off campus premises when I wasn’t smoking tobacco? That’s the issue with new technology, such as electronic cigarettes; old laws can’t keep up. My reason for saying so is, quite obviously, because there is no tobacco in electronic cigarettes. But is that an issue that matters to us?
Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that magically turn liquid nicotine into mist or water vapor that the user inhales. There is no fire, smoke or smell. These little guys don’t have any of the harmful chemicals associated with smoking tobacco cigarettes, such as carbon dioxide and tar. Their design is intended so the user can even smoke indoors.
With that being said, back to my main point; why am I getting kicked off of the premises…?
Oh right, that which we as human beings living in America would die without: image.
Image is everything, especially to a college. After confronting security on my view of unfair treatment of kicking me off campus when I committed no crime, they said: “We were told by the ‘higher ups’ that we need to treat electronic cigarettes the same as regular ones. Even though one is very different from the other, it looks the same and sends the same message.” (Anonymous) Touche, S’cuurity. Can’t really argue with that. Though electronic cigarettes only share the consistency of nicotine with their original unhealthy counterpart, our primitive minds struggle to give E-Cigs their individuality. When you see someone smoke an electronic cigarette, one still thinks of it as ‘smoking’. However, there is no smoke, rendering the term obsolete.
I find it pressing to bring this issue up, not just because of the unjust treatment of students violating no law, but also because of the people struggling with an addiction they might have been fighting for years. The entire point of an electronic cigarette is so the user can have the nicotine that his or her body craves without the harmful effects of smoking. The primary goal is quitting, so its really no different than a nicotine patch or stick of gum. Making an E-Cig user stand with other smokers is cruel; as simply being around the smoke can trigger painful cravings. I have first hand experience with this; why do you think I was smoking an E-Cig in the first place? I, too, am trying to quit. I started smoking when I was fifteen years old due to family drama. Because of the stress, I started stealing cigs from my stepmother, and was soon addicted. I’m only nineteen and I can’t hold my breath underwater for more than three seconds. When the security guard sent me to stand with the other smokers, being around them made me itchy, angry and gave me a slight headache. Others who are struggling as I am can attest to how this feels. So how is it that I am told to leave just because my method of quitting is different from someone else’s?
I wanted to get a wider opinion on this subject, so I talked to students just like you, and you, and that guy who just looked up this article to fill ten minutes between his classes with some shred of meaning. Yes, I’m talking to you. I decided to start with smokers and see how they feel. Most of you could care less I assume, but I managed to find a few of you who could still hold an individual thought pattern. When asked whether it is fair or not for an electronic cigarette smoker to be forced off campus grounds with no crime other than image concerns, Daniel G. (smoker of 7 years) very pointedly said: “It’s ridiculous. Yeah I can understand that image thing, but then why don’t you make another rule so it’s clear? Until they do, those people smoking electric cigs [on campus] aren’t doing anything wrong.”
Point taken. Now, for the counter! Auburny J., a non-smoker, commented, “There are people who have lost loved ones to cigarettes and won’t even tolerate looking at them. It could cause pain to others or just general disdain. Complaints are going to be made.” Will it though? Can the simple act of letting electronic cigarette smokers on campus cause that kind of controversy? What do you think Austin D., smoker of 3 years? “I honestly don’t think people will care that much. I don’t even care that much.” Short and sweet, Austin. What do you say, non-smoker Cole J.? “I think cigarettes are disgusting, and I’d never touch one, but whether or not you’re smoking an E-Cig or a real cig, it doesn’t really bother me to be around it – you do you!”
Actually, exactly 15 out of 16 students stated that it didn’t bother them one way or another. However, I’m sure there are others out there with more to say. If you’re one of those rare people, leave a comment or vote in the poll! Let us know what you think on that matter. Should anything be done? Should nothing be done? Don’t care? We’d love to know.