USC students question effects of new smoke-free policy


On Jan. 10, USC joined 1,827 higher education institutions across the country in prohibiting smoking on campus. The University banned cigarettes, e-cigarettes, hookahs and other products on all University-owned property, including fraternity and sorority houses on the Row. However, enforcing this policy has been difficult — and with the rise in popularity of new forms of smoking, students are continuing to engage in an activity that USC is trying to eradicate.

USC’s Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution supporting a campus-wide ban on smoking in March 2016, and the Academic Senate — a consultative body of professors representing the interests of the faculty — followed up with a resolution of its own in September before the change was formally adopted by the University in January.

But enforcement of the policy rests on the administration and the Department of Public Safety. DPS Assistant Chief David Carlisle said that when DPS officers see someone smoking on campus, the standard procedure is to inform them of the policy and hand them a small card containing information about smoking cessation programs offered on campus.

“We rarely get a complaint about people violating the no-smoking policy,” Carlisle said.

Some students said they have continued to smoke on campus because they disagree with the idea of an absolute ban and believe that people who want to smoke should have an opportunity to do so.

“Some people smoke for fun, and some people smoke because they’re addicted, but it’s their right to smoke,” said Jad Saleh, an e-cigarette user, who is also a freshman majoring in business administration. “I think there should at least be designated spots for people who smoke so they don’t have to go off campus.”

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and nearly one in 10 college students in America die prematurely because of tobacco use, according to the Academic Senate’s proposal to ban smoking on campus. Paula Cannon, president of the Academic Senate, said that the Senate developed its proposal to mitigate the potential for harm that cigarettes pose to the University community.

“We had quite thoughtful discussions [at] the Academic Senate on this topic,” Cannon said. “What swayed us this year was the quantity and quality of evidence against smoking — not just how it impacts all of us whenever we encounter it, but also the impact of secondhand smoke.”

But some students — such as Olivia Marshall, a freshman majoring in real estate development — think that the ban should not apply to all forms of smoking. Marshall said e-cigarettes and vape pens should be permitted on campus, since they can cause less harm to the environment.

“When it comes to e-cigarette usage, there’s no worry about secondhand smoke,” Marshall said. “[And] no one is leaving their cigarette butts anywhere.”

She also added that JUULs, electronic cigarettes with a high concentration of nicotine, have become increasingly popular with USC students, especially because of their size and convenience. E-cigarettes are known to be as addictive as other tobacco products, according to a study from the American Chemical Society. Nine out of 17 common, commercially available e-cigarettes contain the most addictive kind of nicotine, according to TIME magazine.

JUULs fall under the no-smoking policy due to their status as an e-cigarette. But despite their popularity with students, Cannon said the benefits of a smoke-free campus outweigh the rights of individual students to use any form of tobacco products.

“While we all grow up with different habits and expectations as to what’s normal, when we join a pluralistic society like USC, I think we also take on the fact that there are just certain things we do because we want to be good neighbors and we want to do the things that are the most socially acceptable to the most people,” Cannon said. “It’s imperfect, but I think on so many levels smoking is really not acceptable.”

  • Sara

    Bet they are fighting hard for the same rights to smoke/inhale/eat THC or marijuana.

  • Vinny Gracchus

    The second hand smoke argument is a red herring it always was. The goal of smoking bans is the forced denormalization of smokers. The so-called scientific evidence is health advocacy not actual science.
    As a well established example I call attention to the series of fabrications about so-called ‘heart attack” miracles that resulted after smoking bans were imposed. For example consider, “National Study Debunks Helena Smoking Ban Miracle (Again)} where an analysis of data from nearly 2,000 counties finds no evidence that smoking restrictions produce short-term reductions in heart attacks. See Ho V, et al. A Nationwide Assessment of the Association of Smoking Bans and Cigarette Taxes With Hospitalizations for Acute Myocardial Infarction, Heart Failure, and Pneumonia. Med Care Res Rev. 2016 Sep 12.

  • Greg Dj-g

    “The most addictive kind of nicotine”? There are different kinds?
    You guys realize that the nicotine in electronic cigarettes (if used) is the same nicotine that is used in the patch, gum, lozenges, and nasal sprays.
    You don’t hear about a drug store getting robbed of nicotine patches, do you?
    Nicotine is no more addictive (or dangerous) than caffeine. So before you go on a rant about nicotine addiction, you may want to put down your cup of Starbucks.

    • Carl O’Kelley

      Everyday governments, universities, hospitals and corporations are making vaping e-cigarettes illegal everywhere smoking cigarettes is outlawed because they are bogus harm reduction and a smoking cessation hoax. E-cigarettes emit some of the same toxins and carcinogens in cigarette smoke, plus some,such as nickel, at higher levels than in cigarette smoke and others, such as propylene oxide and glycidol, not even found in cigarette smoke. The danger from inhaling e-cigarette emissions was actually established long ago when occupational safety authorities determined that special effects fog machine emissions are harmful to inhale. E-cigarettes are merely handheld toy fog machines that electrically heat glycols to generate fog exactly like the special effects fog machines. The only difference is that e-cigarettes are battery powered, and as it has turned out those Li ion batteries add another danger to the fog toys because they detonate and incinerate, searing throats, impaling tongues, charring lips, breaking teeth, blistering faces, fracturing jaws and burning hands. These injuries have also been inflicted on bystanders. As for caffeine, again more and more jurisdictions ban vaping e-cigarettes and smoking cigarettes but none of them anywhere has ever prohibited drinking coffee. None. Anywhere. Ever.

      • melawyth

        What a silly response! How can e-cigarettes emit the same toxins as cigarette smoke when their ingredients are only Propylene Glycol (used by hospitals in their air purification systems), Vegetable Glycol (used in common cosmetics), flavoring used everywhere and, optionally, nicotine? Danger to bystanders from e-cigarettes has never been established anywhere — in fact, examination of the air in homes where vapers live shows that the air is almost identical to the air in non-smokers’ homes.
        Your example of caffeine shows a strange logic. In fact, because nicotine is not particularly addictive when it isn’t combined with the chemicals in tobacco cigarettes, its effect is similar to that of caffeine. If the university is banning vaping because of the “dangers” of nicotine, it should similarly ban caffeine! (And I can just see that happening!)

        • Carl O’Kelley

          The proof of toxins and carcinogens emitted by cigarettes come from research done by Berkeley National Laboratory. Neither air purification systems nor cosmetics electrically heat glycols and/or glycerin. Flavorings are not used everywhere and nicotine is exactly the addictive ingredient in both cigarette tobacco leaves and e-cigarettes with nicotine e-liquid. Bystanders have been treated for both burns and ballistic trauma when the e-cigarette someone nearby is using detonates and incinerates, becoming flaming shrapnel flying in all directions.

          • melawyth

            Quite honestly, I have little faith in research from Berkeley — it relies too heavily on financial support from the pharmaceutical industry that is trying desperately to destroy the vaping industry. One of the reports that came out of there screamed about toxins in tissue exposed to vapour for a number of weeks, but failed to mention that the same tissue type exposed to cigarette smoke died within a couple of days.
            No one claims that vaping is 100% safe, but nothing is 100% safe in life, and if a smoker has tried in vain to stop through other means, a switch to vaping becomes a life-saver.
            The explosions are caused by the lithium batteries. Cell phones use the same batteries and have exploded in the same way. It’s too bad that regulators are spending so much energy on demonizing vaping instead of urging education about the proper handling and use of these batteries.

          • Carl O’Kelley

            Cell phones have not “exploded in the same way” because they don’t contain a flammable liquid as e-cigarettes do, and yes propylene glycol is flammable when preheated, which is exactly what an e-cigarette does to it. Bystanders deserve to be protected from incorrigible nicotine addicts and their peculiar recreational substance abuse.

          • melawyth

            Cell phones explode quite regularly — check the news. However, I’m beginning to understand what’s going on here, and have decided that this bystander deserves to be protected from incorrigible self-righteousness and rudeness.

          • Greg Dj-g

            The liquid isn’t what explodes in vapor. Most of the time, the news is mis-reporting… saying “E-cig catches fire in man’s pocket” should actually read “Loose battery with change in man’s pocket catches fire”.
            Meanwhile, propylene glycol is considered “slightly flammable” at high temperatures, according to the MSDS. You’d have to be dripping at high wattage, then strike a lighter to actually get it to burn.

          • ZiggyBoomBox

            Exactly, overheating lithium batteries expel a flammable gas. That is where the flames come from NOT from the eliquid.

          • Sara

            Ha, Berkeley!! You didn’t just cite Berkeley…Sorry, I’ve been reading the entire thread (up until this point) and it just lost all credibility. Funny Stuff. Berkeley..

      • melawyth

        Yes, this is happening everywhere because people read headlines in the tabloids and press releases without doing some investigation into the real research that is being done internationally. Millions of smokers around the world have thrown away their cigarettes and now enjoy better health because they’ve switched to vaping. A hoax? Sorry, dear — I’m not a hoax — I stopped smoking instantly 3 years ago after being enslaved to tobacco for 40 years. Since then, I’ve taken the trouble to educate myself on the subject. If you are a student, this is a habit you should develop.

        • Carl O’Kelley

          The research proving that inhaling electrically heated glycols and/or glycerine was already done decades ago, is more than headlines and you clearly have not educated yourself because you are a delusional and incorrigible nicotine addict like so many others who are still enslaved to nicotine, swapping nicotine in tobacco leaves for nicotine in e-liquid instead of actually liberating yourself from any and all nicotine substance abuse. If you are a student did you graduate?

          • melawyth

            Of course I graduated — in several fields, actually, but that’s neither here nor there. I have found, since I started vaping, that I’ve decreased my nicotine levels considerably and naturally; this is a common experience among vapers because, as I’ve said before, nicotine is no more addictive than caffeine away from tobacco cigarettes. Did you know that medical research shows that nicotine slows the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases? Nothing in life, Carl, is black and white

          • Greg Dj-g

            Ahhh… the abstinence / addiction rant.
            Well, enjoy your holier-than-thou nicotine addiction rant over your cup of coffee… bar of chocolate… blunt… line of coke… sex… exercise… whatever you’re addicted to.

          • Carl O’Kelley

            Ahhh…the flirting with libel/slander rant

      • Greg Dj-g

        Oh… .and you’re correct that they tested theatrical fog machines back in the 70’s, and tested Propylene Glycol as early as the 1940’s… and guess what? Your statement of findings is incorrect. Fog machines were found to cause no harm.

  • charlie

    If this restriction is so important the school should not admit smoking students who will live on campus because the only way they can smoke is to loiter on someone else’s property. Banning ecigarettes is a missed opportunity. Allowing them on campus encourages smokers to switch which can save them a lot of money to help pay tuition and may be they will live longer and eventually donate some money back to the school as alumni because they are grateful for the support they got from the school to help them stop smoking. Quitting smoking would be more important to their long term well being than anything they learn going to class because knowledge isn’t very useful if you are dead.