LANGSTON — Oklahoma State University regents voted unanimously Friday to ban the use of e-cigarettes on the Stillwater campus effective immediately.
OSU's tobacco use policy now prohibits “hookahs, electronic cigarettes, vapor devices and clove cigarettes.”
The policy adopted in 2007 bans the use of tobacco anywhere on campus, but didn't mention electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes are a smokeless way to ingest nicotine, although some users choose products without nicotine. Instead of smoke, the devices emit vapor.
The revision to the tobacco use policy was on the Oct. 25 meeting agenda for the Board of Regents for OSU and the A&M Colleges, but was pulled for further review.
Regents Chairman Tucker Link said the delay allowed opponents and proponents an opportunity to present more information.
“Respectful of the different point of views, at the end of the day, it pointed back to the health of the vast majority of our faculty, staff and students,” Link said. “The ban complements Oklahoma State's smoke-free campus initiative, which was a vital step in our pursuit of becoming one of the healthiest campus environments in the country and reversing the historic unhealthy trends in Oklahoma.”
Suzy Harrington, OSU chief wellness officer, said the products should be prohibited until more research on their safety has been completed.
The OSU Student Government Association has supported the ban in a resolution.
Student Senate Chairman Donnie Joe Worth said it's the Senate's viewpoint that using e-cigarettes in buildings and classrooms is disrespectful and causes a distraction to both students and faculty.
Without clear guidelines, faculty and staff didn't know how to address it, said Worth, a senior chemical engineering major from Tahlequah.
“I don't see it as being distracting or disrespectful. Most people who use these are respectful of others,” music professor Todd Malicoate said.
Malicoate said the ban is unnecessary.
“I don't believe the reasons for bringing the ban are honest,” he said. “It's very clear they are safe.”
An e-cigarette ban is already in place at the University of Central Oklahoma.
UCO's tobacco policy includes “simulated tobacco products that imitate or mimic tobacco products.”
The University of Oklahoma's campus tobacco policy bans cigarettes anywhere on campus, but allows e-cigarettes outdoors.