HOUGHTON — For decades, Michigan Tech has been a tobacco–free campus and a few months ago, discussions began about banning the use of e–cigarettes as well.
And due to the fact that many health organizations really don’t know how to classify it, that leaves the Tobacco–Free Task Force with their hands tied on how to regulate it.
“We were looking at all that and basically what they were saying is that these things are really variable and there’s about 500 different kinds and nobody has tested them and they’re all urging some standardization so people know what’s in them,” MTU President Dr. Glenn Mroz said.
Mroz requested feedback from the University Senate, Staff Council as well as the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Governments on whether or not e–cigarettes should be banned on campus.
The USG said they would like to see a ban on indoor use only, while the Senate and Staff Council both expressed their support for a complete ban and ultimately, that’s what the Executive Team decided to do.
Michigan Tech becomes one of about 600 universities across the country to ban e–cigarettes, in addition to all tobacco products. Those campuses include Finlandia University as well as Ohio State University.
“We’re not alone in this. It’s not an easy thing and we realize that there’s a lot of people that aren’t terribly pleased with the whole idea but we’re erring to the side of caution this time,” said Mroz.
“One of the points a lot of people make is that these are ways to help people stop using cigarettes. But then the other side of the coin is that these are things that are entry drugs to help people start smoking so it goes both ways,” Mroz said.
Former USG Treasurer Steven Steinhoff gave a presentation to the University Senate regarding the benefits of e–cigarettes and how they even helped him quit smoking.
“Just to basically educate. I’m not trying to convert people. You’re obviously able to form your own opinions yourself. I just wanted to make sure that instead of just blindly banning things, at least you’re educated in your decision,” said Steinhoff.
He added that he felt the whole process was rushed and even said he thinks the students got slighted in this situation.
“We put our feedback in and then two weeks later, everyone in school gets an e–mail from President Mroz saying “I’ve decided to move forward with the ban” and we all looked at each other like “what”. That just goes to show I don’t really think they took our opinions in fact because they just completely moved forward almost immediately after our deadline of when to submit our comments,” Steinhoff said.
Currently, the USG is not planning to do anything else regarding the ban but President Mroz did say that if more research is done on the federal level, the issue could be revisited in the future.