E-cigarettes now banned on Texas State campus

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Special to the Star
Brandon Redding, criminal justice freshman, takes a smoke break Feb. 16 after class.

Texas State officials banned tobacco use for health reasons, and the policy was recently reviewed again.

The university is one of 1,014 campuses across the country exercising tobacco-free policies, according to the Americans for Non-Smokers’ Rights website. The Department of Student Affairs reviewed Texas State’s current tobacco policy Feb. 9 and decided to include vaporizing devices within the scope of products addressed.

“The only thing we wanted to clarify was the issue with e-cigarettes,” said Joanne Smith, vice president of student affairs. “It has come up several times, and so we were wanting to review what the city had in their ordinance and then what we had.”

Individuals on campus complained about a lack of regulations on e-cigarettes, so the review was held to include them in the tobacco policy, Smith said.

Rickey Lattie, captain and assistant director of the University Police Department (UPD), said officers do not write citations for smoking violations.

“We usually just walk over to (violators) and ask them to stop,” Lattie said.

Cally Moore, biochemistry senior, said UPD enforced the ban with citations. Moore was caught smoking on campus about a year and a half ago.

“The cop was really nice,” Moore said. “He just took our student IDs, and then we got an email saying, ‘Hey, don’t smoke. Go to these quit-smoking websites.’ He told us that if we got caught again, we would be fined.”

Students, faculty and staff turn violators in to the Department of Student Affairs, where they are punished academically for the violation.

“Typically, when a person is stopped, we let them know, ‘Oh, we have a policy at the university that we are a tobacco-free campus,’” Smith said.

People who are confronted by university officials usually claim they did not know the policy, apologize and comply, Smith said.

Violators are referred to the Office of the Dean of Students, which holds hearings for repeat offenders. Individuals can face penalties such as community service and tobacco classes the violator must pay for, Smith said.

Student Government vice-presidential candidate Tyler Burton addressed the university’s tobacco policy Feb. 11 at The University Star’s 2015 Student Government debate.

“I don’t feel like we should have people walking through the quad or campus with cigarettes,” Burton said at the debate.

He suggested a change to the existing policy.

“We should have designated spots for smoking,” Burton said.

Ashtray bins are located in spots smokers frequent, such as the corner of North LBJ Drive and Concho Street. However, these are not smoking areas designated by the university.

Signs around campus and statements by university officials do not establish the policy’s legal enforcement. Students, staff, faculty and UPD are responsible for locating and reporting violators under the policy, Smith said.