University, city officials should allow e-cig use in public

Copy Editor | Public Relations senior

My name is JD, and I used to smoke 30 cigarettes a day.

Gum gave me heartburn. Patches hurt my skin. I could not quit. Now, my breath smells better, my mornings are free of coughing-fits, my wallet is fatter and I have not needed my asthma inhaler in months. The problem? My city and my university believe that my way of quitting is no better than my original habit.

As it stands, Texas State treats all electronic cigarettes (e-cigs, personal nicotine vaporizers, etc.) as tobacco products. As of June 1, the City of San Marcos will disallow smoking and vaping (e-cig use) in bars, restaurants, government buildings and other public spaces. This classification is wrong, does not reflect readily-available research and will ultimately further preventable illness and death.

Unlike smoke-producing, tobacco-burning cigarettes, battery-powered e-cigs create a warm vapor by heating a liquid usually referred to as e-juice. The main ingredients in most e-juices are propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin.

Candy-grade flavoring, distilled water and sometimes nicotine are added in small amounts. Those five substances are the only things inhaled and exhaled by an e-cig user. There's no smoke, no fire and no cause for alarm.

According to the EPA, propylene glycol was first registered by the FDA in 1950 for use in hospitals as an air disinfectant. Vegetable glycerin has the highest seal of approval from the FDA—GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe.” Both are safe substances found in many cosmetics, medicines and foods. Flavorings used by reputable vendors are safe for human consumption. A research article published in a 1996 edition of Life Sciences proved that nicotine has been shown to have no cancerous effects when inhaled. More recently, there was a March 13 article published on DiscoverMagazine.com that showed that it may even help improve brain function.

Medical doctors, researchers and almost anybody with an e-cig in hand will be able to tell you personal vaporizers worked better than presently "approved" smoking cessation methods. The act of inhaling and exhaling vapor, with or without nicotine, helps smokers successfully quit with a better rate of success than gum and patches with fewer potential side effects than cessation drugs like Chantix mind-altering prescription antidepressants like Wellbutrin.

Research shows that “vapers” are in the clear, but what about people exposed to secondhand e-cig use? A May 7 ScientificAmerican.com article contained details of an Italian study of e-cig use under realistic usage conditions. The study showed that e-cigs presented none of the harmful traces of chemicals correlated to tobacco cigarettes left after a five-hour session. This means e-cigs are better for those using them and for anybody in the immediate area.

Any blanket-ban on e-cig use would be harmful to the community. Texas State, the City of San Marcos and the vaping community need to take a more democratic, levelheaded approach to placing restrictions on emerging technologies like e-cigs.

I am not asking for an e-cig free-for-all in huge lecture halls or city courtrooms. I do not want to see “vapeholes” abusing the existing rules and loopholes to blow clouds in 300-seat lecture halls or in the general direction of little kids at the nearest family restaurant. Individual business owners, classrooms members and resident hall roommates should be able to decide what is and is not allowed in their spaces. Simply put, Bobcats and San Martians should work together to make the university and the city truly smoke-free.