June 14, 2014

College Students Frustrated By E-Cigarette Bans

By: Ken Silva

Smoking paternalism has reached a new level in Ohio, with Oberlin becoming the first city in the state to include electronic cigarettes in its ban on smoking in public areas after the city council there voted to change its smoking ordinance last week.

The new policy is similar to those enacted in cities such as Los Angeles and New York City earlier this year, imposing fines up to $150 for first-time infractions and $1,000 for third-time offenses, according to the Morning Journal.

Those stiff penalties come despite the fact that e-cigarettes have not been found to have any adverse health effects like those caused by tobacco products. In fact, a recent study in the journal Addiction reported that e-cigs actually help people quit tobacco products more than other cessation aids such as nicotine gum and patches.

Students at Oberlin College oppose the measure — “fascism strikes Oberlin,” OC Republicans and Libertarians president Taylor Reiners said about the new rule — but Oberlin College is out for summer, so its doubtful that there will be much protest to the new rules. In New York City,  by contrast,  more than 300 e-smokers showed up for a “vape-in” at Manhattan’s Museum of Sex as an act of civil disobedience after the ban went into effect.

But students could be in for a rude awakening when the fall semester starts. The college already banned smoking on campus, forcing many of them to take to city property to get their fix.

That option will no longer exist. The Oberlin News-Tribune reported that the ban includes public parks, restaurants, workplaces, stores, and government offices. Residences, hotel rooms, outdoor patios, private clubs, and – oddly enough – nursing homes are exempted from the ban.

OC students did try to organize a movement over the last year to counter the school’s anti-tobacco movement, but to no avail. Reiners, who unsuccessfully fought against the ban before graduating last month and celebrating with a stogie, is glad to be out of the town.

 Follow Ken Silva on Twitter. Image of woman smoking e-cigarrette courtesy of Big Stock Photo.