E-cigarette bans on campuses stirring conversations across the state

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — After Texas A&M’s Chancellor announced Tuesday he’d ban e-cigarettes across the university’s campuses, KXAN looked into how the policy works at the University of Texas.

“We can’t control what happens off of our campuses, but we sure as heck can control what happens on the campuses, and so until we figure out what’s going on, we’re simply going to not have it,” said Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp.

Sharp says until the CDC can give better answers about the link between e-cigarettes and lung disease, they won’t be allowed. He says Texas A&M will start with an education campaign, letting students know they can no longer vape at the university, and then, it will be enforced, just like the school’s cigarette rules are already.

UT is already a completely tobacco-free campus. However, some students say that doesn’t stop some people.

“You get a cloud of scent every now and again when you’re walking,” said UT student Athena Kovner.

“You can usually tell, because there’s, like, a little cloud coming up from the crowd,” said Andrea Herrera, another student.

Both Kovner and Herrera say they see e-cigarettes on campus the most, but sometimes, they say they’ll see regular cigarettes, as well.

“They can really set whatever rules they want but it’s just about being enforced,” said UT student Shelby Nester, who feels often, the tobacco policy isn’t enforced on campus.

UT’s Tobacco-Free Campus Coordinator says the rules are enforced. Although campus police officers can’t ticket anyone because it’s only school policy, she says the school has a special program where ambassadors can enforce the tobacco-free rules.

The university has trained 300 Tobacco-Free ambassadors. They’re students and staff members who stop anyone they see smoking and educate him or her about the rules. Students can’t be cited or fined, but they can be sent to the school’s hour-long Tobacco-Free Ambassador Training program. Any student who gets sent to that ambassador training for smoking on-campus will also be referred to resources to help him or her quit smoking.

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