Emory’s Tobacco Ban Needs Work

I was a smoker. I was vocally opposed to the ban, or at least snobbish about it. “Oh, they’re just doing it so that employee health care is cheaper,” or “It’s just to give the school one more ‘wow’ factor for visiting parents.” All conspiratorial ideas that I haven’t completely shaken, but so it goes.

But, I quit. I quit for a variety of health reasons and for the added benefit of a few more bucks in my pocket. Hopefully, I’ve quit for good, but we’ll have to see.

Now that I’ve shown hand, I want to express some thoughts. I’m not looking to try to argue against the ban. It’s such a monolithic thing, and frankly I’m tired from the past week. My most immediate objection to the wording of the ban is its prohibition against so-called “e-cigarettes.” For those who don’t know, e-cigarettes release a vapor of nicotine that can then be inhaled. E-cigarettes don’t carry the same risk of harm that cigarettes do because they don’t have any of the (numerous) other ingredients that go into cigarettes.

Though the wording of the tobacco ban only lists tobacco products, e-cigarettes are also listed on the Tobacco Free Emory website’s list of banned items.

I will grant that e-cigarettes are a new product and that there isn’t much research on them. However, e-cigarettes could be used in much the same way as nicotine patches are used: as a means of quitting. Alongside that, e-cigarettes are a socially harmless means of consuming nicotine.

People are affected by secondhand smoke from cigarettes, but as with a nicotine patch, no person other than the smoker is harmed by the use of e-cigarettes. Banning e-cigarettes is, simply, ridiculous.

My second matter is less technical, though may be seen as a finger-pointing tactic, but that is not my desire at all.

Emory’s campus, dear reader, has something of a drinking problem and Adderall problem. Drinking may be talked about in a freshman’s health class, or in AlcoholEdu, but nothing different from what people would have already heard in an 8th grade health class. No conversation about how alcohol can be a problematic substance without being an ‘alcoholic.’ Just a general message of, “Don’t get caught with it under 21, and oh yeah don’t get alcohol poisoning.”

But at least alcohol is addressed. Pharmaceutical drugs like Adderall, intended for those with ADHD and other attention disorders, are used by many on campus. Some use them recreationally, but they’re often used just to stay on top of one’s work. This ties itself into the stress levels that many Emory students are made to endure because of their classes, and that’s a different topic for a different day. The point is that Adderall abuse is a meaningful problem.

Which brings me to my point. There is a tobacco ban. The campus engaged in a dialogue about tobacco and did something (big) about it. I’m not saying that I think Emory should become a dry campus or pharmaceutical-free. But these are issues that need to be discussed in a big, meaningful way. It can help Emory achieve its goal of being a healthful environment for its students and faculty.

Finally, I extend my solidarity with Emory’s tobacco-users.

Rhett Henry is a College sophomore from Lawrenceville, Ga.