UL Smoking Ban - Should It Include Vaping?

Last August, it was announced on the Students Union Facebook page that UL have decided to strive towards becoming a smoke free campus. The decision, brought to the S.U for discussion by the president’s office, “involves the implementation of smoke-free/vape-free zones” across campus. The intention of the policy change is to make UL’s campus a healthier space for students and staff.

While the general idea has sparked various reactions from many students, the positive intentions of the ban can be understood. Following similar bans that have been put in place in Limerick University Hospital,  Cork Institute of Technology and many other locations around the country, it isn’t a massive surprise that UL has followed the same path. However, the decision to include the use of e-cigarettes in the smoking ban seems like a counter-productive choice.

One could presume the goal of this policy-change was to discourage smoking, encourage smokers to give up and, ultimately, reduce the amount of smokers here in UL. In recent years, many smokers have adopted e-cigarettes in exchange for smoking tobacco and it has proven to be a really helpful alternative to fags. Vaping has become a smoking alternative that is significantly safer for smokers and those around them, so why are we implementing a policy that rejects this choice?

In a report published by Cancer Research UK, they discuss how growing evidence over the last decade has shown there are very little side effects associated with vaping and second-hand inhalation of exhaled vapour. Public Health England the Royal College of Physicians even estimate that e-cigarettes are “around 95% safer than smoking” ordinary cigarettes.

It’s important to bear in mind the differences between smoking cigarettes and using vapes. Cancer Research UK reminds us that cigarettes contain over 5,000 chemicals, of which at least 70 can cause cancer. E-cigarettes, however, do not contain tobacco or any of these chemicals, but instead use a nicotine-containing liquid which satisfy cravings but do not lead to cancer.

A study undertaken by UCL scientists confirms that e-cigarettes are significantly safer for smokers and those around them, so what advantage does banning vaping devices hold for the students of UL? Providing further discouragement to those trying to beat smoking addiction? Spreading the judgement that smokers receive for doing so to those who are actively trying to be healthier as well?

Obviously, e-cigarettes have only been around for roughly a decade, and we cannot say with full certainty that there are no long term side effects caused from vaping either. However, the research done to date does make this a highly unlikely outcome, and discouraging those choosing the safer alternative from doing so does not seem like the correct way for UL to make our campus a safer and healthier place of study.