By Alexa Devore
Although many students are greeted with clouds of vape smoke as they walk across Youngstown State University, vaping is actually prohibited on certain parts of the campus according to the Student Code of Conduct.
The code was updated on June 17, 2015. One of the changes was made to the tobacco use policy, which now includes “electronic cigarettes or any other devices intended to simulate smoking.”
Kelly Beers, associate director of Student Conduct, said health concerns are the reason why vaping is treated like tobacco use on campus.
“I think at this point yes, we have to consider it equivalent to smoking a cigarette or anything because we don’t know the effects of second hand smoke on others,” she said.
According to Beers, smoking is allowed in areas that are 50 feet from YSU buildings. Still, students and faculty can be seen smoking cigarettes and vape pens near Maag Library, DeBartolo, Cushwa and Meshel under the overhangs.
Carrie Clyde, wellness coordinator, said the tobacco use policy isn’t typically enforced or abided by students, staff, faculty or guests.
Beers said the Student Conduct department is going to work toward more strictly enforcing the tobacco use policy, and making sure students are fully aware that it exists.
She said they are taking vaping seriously because there isn’t much research on the effects of inhaling “secondhand vapor.”
YSU student Matt Milligan said he doesn’t mind when people use vape pens to stop smoking, but thinks people take advantage of it.
Some students, like Hannah Telesz, think of it as a safer option as long as it’s outside the buildings.
“I don’t think it is a bad thing on campus, I think it is a healthier alternative,” she said.
But others, like Bobby Marinelli, are distracted — especially in the classroom.
“I personally think it is very inconsiderate,” he said. “It is distracting to other students trying to learn.”
Nursing student Nicole Hetmanksi said she would rather see YSU enforce its ban on smoking near buildings before they try to limit the use of vape pens and e-cigarettes.
However, she is concerned about potential health effects of vaping.
“Vape pens may contain nicotine, which increases blood pressure and heart rate and lead to heart disease and stroke,” Hetmanski said. “I don’t know much about vaping, but I do know that they aren’t as harmless as people would like to pretend they are.”
Clyde said it’s essential for YSU to strongly enforce their tobacco policy to create a healthier campus culture. If students would like to see that, they need to speak up.
“I do recommend that anyone that has concerns about this issue speak up and voice them to YSU’s administration, so as they understand the pressing concerns of our population,” she said.